Religion and Cultural Impacts on Snow Leopard Conservation

Betsy Gaines Quammen*, Juan Li, Hang Yin, Zhi Lu, Apela Colorado, Nargiza Ryskulova, John Mock, Irina Loginova

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book or Report/Conference proceedingChapterpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Scientists have begun to recognize that cultural and biological diversity are deeply linked, and that conservation programs should take into account the ethical, cultural, and spiritual values of nature and enlist indigenous peoples' support. In Qinghai-Tibet Plateau, Tibetan Buddhist monasteries have substantial overlap with snow leopard range, and may protect more snow leopard habitats than nature reserves by organizing patrolling around sacred mountains and educating communities. Monastery-based conservation could be used as a snow leopard conservation strategy if extended to other Tibetan Buddhism-influenced regions, which may cover 80% of snow leopard range. Throughout the Pamir-Hindu Kush of Afghanistan and Pakistan, mountain communities share knowledge that transcends linguistic and social boundaries. This indigenous knowledge is contextually grounded in peoples' interactions with land, weather, and biodiversity and is recognized as essential to address complex environmental issues. The symbolic linkages between biological and cultural diversity are represented in their stories and art.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSnow Leopards
Subtitle of host publicationBiodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes
PublisherElsevier Inc.
Number of pages21
ISBN (Electronic)9780128024966
ISBN (Print)9780128022139
Publication statusPublished - 24 Jun 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Afghanistan
  • Buddhist monastery
  • Conservation
  • Cultural heritage
  • Folklore
  • Indigenous cultural practitioners
  • Pakistan
  • Pamir
  • Qinghai-Tibet Plateau
  • Sacred mountain


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