Nicolás Lagos spends much of his time in the rugged Andes Mountains of Chile, where he works with the Andean Cat Alliance. In September he traveled to even higher mountains while visiting Snow Leopard Conservancy’s India program.
The two organizations have much in common: they both protect cats that live in mountainous terrain and both work closely with local people. Nicolás’s visit, which was funded by the WCN Cross-Partner Visit Program, provided him with a firsthand look at SLC-India’s conservation methods, many of which he thinks could be applicable to his work.
SLC-India has created a homestay program that brings tourists to stay with local villagers. The program provides new sources of income to villagers, changes attitudes toward the snow leopard and helps preserve local culture. Nicolás thinks that a homestay program could have similar effects in the Andes, where tourism doesn’t currently exist in many remote villages.
He was also able to see the successes of a livestock insurance program and a corral improvement program implemented by SLC-India. The corrals help villagers protect their livestock from predators, while the insurance program allows herders to pay small amounts into an insurance fund that then compensates for the loss of any livestock killed by snow leopards.