Pastoralism is highly predominant in the highlands of Bhutan stretching from East to West, an ecosystem widely regarded a treasure trove for medicinal herbs and home to the endangered snow leopard.
In March 2005, the Royal Government of Bhutan (RGOB) in collaboration with World Wildlife Fund (WWF) hosted the first-ever South Asian Regional Consultation Workshop to develop a regional strategy and action plan to conserve the Snow leopard. The workshop identified four main areas to address snow leopard conservation in Bhutan and neighboring countries: (i) protecting snow leopard habitat and ecosystems, (ii) management of human wildlife conflicts, (iii) management of illegal wildlife trade in snow leopard body parts, and (iv) transboundary initiatives and co-operation.
Unfortunately, the strategy could not be fully implemented due to lack of adequate resources and proper follow-up. Therefore, conservation work on the snow leopard continued sporadically across range countries. For Bhutan, in spite of a good network of protected areas interconnected by biological corridors, the absence of species-specific information posed serious challenges to conservation.
To address this, RGOB initiated steps to establish species-specific baseline information. Considering the contiguity of snow leopard habitat with neighboring countries, the snow leopard population in Bhutan is estimated at about 100-200 animals, distributed over a potential area of 10,000 square kilometres.
The National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (NSLEPP) framework, with its strong base on previous works, will address immediate needs in strengthening the effectiveness of snow leopard conservation in Bhutan, by (i) valuing snow leopard ecosystem and its economic, biodiversity and spiritual/cultural services to the community, (ii) disseminating information on the value of snow leopard ecosystem and generating support for conservation, and (iii) assessing threats to snow leopard and its habitat, both traditional and modern, from infrastructure development, market demand, tourism, and climate change. NSLEPP is expected to be implemented over seven years (2014-2020).
National Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Plan:
Download as PDF: Bhutan_NSLEP
Honorable Mr. Lyonpo Yeshey Penjor Minister, Ministry of Agriculture & Forests
Royal Government of Bhutan
Designated National Focal Point:
Mr. Sonam Wangdi, Chief Forestry Officer- Wildlife Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Park Services