National Socio-Environmental Synthesis Center (SESYNC)
1 Park Place, Suite 300
Annapolis, MD 21401
Title: The Snow Leopard and the Goat: Politics of Conservation in the Western Himalayas
Seminar presented by Dr. Shafqat Hussain, Trinity College.
Abstract: This presentation examines the uneven distribution of costs and benefits involved in snow leopard conservation and shows that in order for the conservation of nature to be successful, the vision, interests, and priorities of those most affected by conservation policies―in this case, local farmers―must be addressed. A case history of Project Snow Leopard in the mountains of northern Pakistan, which inspired similar programs in India, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan, describes how the animal's food habits are studied; how elusive individuals are counted; and how a novel kind of "snow leopard insurance" has protected the species by compensating farmers for livestock losses. The Snow Leopard and the Goat presentation demonstrates that characterizing this conflict as one between humans (farmers) and wildlife (snow leopards) is misleading, as the real conflict is between two human groups―farmers and conservationists―who see the snow leopard differently.
Bio: Shafqat Hussain is an Associate Professor of Anthropology at Trinity College, Hartford, CT. Shafqat obtained a Ph.D. from the School of Forestry & Environmental Studies and the Department of Anthropology at Yale University, USA in 2009. For his doctoral research, he worked in the Gilgit-Baltistan region of northern Pakistan, looking at conflict between a local yak-herding community and the government forest department over the establishment and management of a National Park. In 1999, he started a community-based livestock insurance scheme against snow leopard predation in the Baltistan region of northern Pakistan. He has worked for Aga Khan Rural Support Program in Skardu and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) – Washington as a Ford Foundation Policy Fellow. His first book Remoteness and Modernity was published by Yale University Press in 2015. His second book, The Snow Leopard and the Goat, was published by University of Washington Press in 2019.