Professor Hussain, right, pictured in Northern Pakistan.

For more than 20 years, Trinity College Professor of Anthropology Shafqat Hussain has dedicated his work to protecting the snow leopard species in Northern Pakistan. In 1999, Hussain created an insurance plan that provides economic incentives to regional farmers; the insurance safeguards snow leopards, one of the world’s most endangered species, from being killed in response to an attack on a farmer’s herd.

 

Project Snow Leopard, launched in Hussain’s home country, promotes the coexistence of humans and snow leopards. The project has three goals: 

 

1. To create compensation for farmers, reducing economic loss

 2. To construct predator-proof corrals for farmers

 3. To monitor the snow leopard’s population through genetic analysis and camera trapping

 

The Hushe Survey team

In 2006, with the help of a grant provided by the Rolex Awards for Enterprise, Hussain—a trained economist and environmental anthropologisthas expanded the project to 10 additional valleys across Baltistan, impacting approximately 15,000 people. Today, the insurance plan has been adopted in India, Nepal, Bhutan, Afghanistan, and China. Through Hussain and his team’s work, the snow leopard population is now stable. 

 

In addition to the Rolex Award for Enterprise in 2006, Hussain’s work has won numerous other awards, including the United Nations Equator Prize, and in 2009 he was named a National Geographic Emerging Explorer.

 

Recently, Rolex connected with Hussain, a Rolex Awards Laureate, for an update on his project. Watch the short video from the Rolex Perpetual Planet initiative for details on Project Snow Leopard: