Tibetan Monasteries Serve as Critical Allies for Snow Leopards
Led by Dr. Li Juan of Peking University, the Panthera-supported study confirms that over 300 monasteries inhabit the same sky-high region as the snow leopards of the Tibetan Plateau, and protect more snow leopard habitat than local nature reserves. The study, Role of Tibetan Buddhist Monasteries in Snow Leopard Conservation, was co-authored by Panthera’s Dr. George Schaller and Dr. Tom McCarthy, the leading Chinese conservation NGO Shan Shui and the Snow Leopard Trust. It showed that nearly half of the monasteries are found in snow leopard habitat, while 90% exist within 5 km of snow leopard range in the Plateau’s Sanjiangyuan region.
Monks on the Tibetan Plateau serve as de facto wildlife guardians. Tibetan Buddhism considers the snow leopard and its habitats strictly sacred, and the monks patrol wild landscapes surrounding monasteries to enforce strict edicts against killing wildlife. Senior monks, including the Rinpoche and Khenpos, are important influencers in their communities, positively impacting followers’ attitudes and behavior towards wildlife.The study shows that Tibetan Buddhism is practiced across an extraordinary 80% of snow leopard range, and so monastery-based snow leopard conservation could apply over a much broader area than the Tibetan Plateau.
Panthera’s Vice President, Dr. George Schaller, explained, “Buddhism has as a basic tenet the love, respect, and compassion for all living beings. This report illuminates how science and the spiritual values of Tibetan Buddhism can combine their visions and wisdom to help protect China’s natural heritage. Such an approach to environmental conservation needs to be emulated by all the world’s faiths.”
Provided by : https://bigcatrescue.org