Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust set the year off on a good course with their Himalayan Homestays project taking place in the Sham Valley of Ladakh. The organization identified two beneficiary villages to receive homestay packages - Wanla and Hanupatta. Each village received two consultations to determine beneficiary households and figure out next steps for beginning the homestay program. These are households opening their homes to tourists as a way of enabling tourists to learn about local culture first-hand and enable local people to generate income that offsets livestock loss to snow leopards. The organization also provided garbage bins to an existing homestay village in their efforts to better manage waste.
In getting the homestay program going, the organization met with Wanla villagers to discuss the importance of conserving the snow leopard and the associated species and the landscape. Conversation also took place around adverse impacts of mass tourism on the natural resources of Ladakh and the importance of maintaining an ecological balance for sustainable development in the future. Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust carried out inspections of homestays, offering explanation of the value of homestays – how for example, ten percent of proceeds from the homestays will go to a village conservation fund that can be used for various activities promoting responsible tourism in the village. Lastly a date was determined for the Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust to return and distribute material and offer training on hospitality, hygiene, sanitation, cooking and bookkeeping. In addition, the visit at Hanupatta village took place to consult the villagers for starting homestays. Four of the households did not meet the standards set by SLC-IT and are working to address the issues in order to re-qualify.
Lastly, a total of 25 metal drums were handed over to the Mangyu village to support with waste management. The metal drums or garbage bins were painted and labeled and sites were determined where they would be placed as well as discussion about management with waste once bins are filled. Agreement was determined to send the recyclable waste to Leh, the capital town, and dispose the rest in a dry valley next to the village. All in all, this project is off to a great start!
Project Name: The Himalayan Homestays Program
Organization Name: Snow Leopard Conservancy India Trust
Year Grant Awarded: 2018
Progress Update: Quarter 1, 2019 Project Update