Shen

An initiative of Snow Leopard Enterprises

‘Shen’, meaning snow leopard in the local Spitian dialect, is an enterprise started by the women of Kibber and Chichim villages in Spiti, Himachal Pradesh to produce and sell local products that could supplement their livelihood.

  • Workshop in Chichim village

  • Warm socks

  • Learning how to crochet

  • Trying out a crocheted earring

  • Red fox bookmark

  • Sheep hot pot holder

The Beginning

Nature Conservation Foundation and Snow Leopard Trust have been working for over 15 years on conserving the population of snow leopard and its prey species in the trans-Himalayan landscape of India. While various conservation initiatives carried out over the years have helped conserve the snow leopards, we continue to explore newer ways to strengthen our conservation focus. One such conservation initiative that has generated interest with local communities in this region is that of setting up an enterprise to produce and sell local products that could supplement their livelihood. Coupled with a strong conservation link, the enterprise could help further reinforce our sustained efforts to protect these endangered species.

A pilot project was started in 2013 with 50 women from Kibber and Chichim villages in Spiti valley, Himachal Pradesh. They named this enterprise ‘Shen’ meaning snow leopard in the local Spitian dialect. The money from these products will help them offset losses caused by livestock predation by carnivores. It also helps diversify their income and participate in wildlife conservation of species like the snow leopard, wolves, fox, bharal and ibex.

The Way Forward

Since we started we have held several workshops, first exploring the skills the ladies possess and then teaching them new skills. Currently they make crochet products such as fox bookmarks, sheep hot pot holders, warm socks, earrings and many more. We have specially crafted wooden blocks depicting some of the charismatic wildlife such as snow leopard and ibex. The women are now learning the art of block printing to have a variety of products that will appeal to the urban market.

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Block-printed diaries

People

Partners

  • Aarika Solanki, Arpit Agarwal, Mala Srikanth, Sandhya Menon, Sarah Thomas, Sandhya Srinivasan and many more.
  • Many people have been instrumental in making this project a success

Funding

  • Conservation Leadership Programme
  • Disney Worldwide Conservation Fund

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