Ensuring snow leopard survival and conserving mountain landscapes by expending environmental awareness and sharing innovative practices through community stewardship and partnerships

aka SLC   |   Sonoma, CA   |


Ensuring snow leopard survival and conserving mountain landscapes by expanding environmental awareness and sharing innovative practices through community stewardship and partnerships. The Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) works with local partners and herder communities, the front line in preserving the biodiversity of Central Asia’s high mountains by providing technical and financial assistance for activities linked to stewardship and biodiversity conservation. Our programs build community ownership of projects, long-term self-reliance, and ecosystem health. We involve communities in non-invasive baseline research on snow leopards, their prey and habitat, blending western science with indigenous knowledge.

Ruling year info


Executive Director

Ms. Ashleigh Lutz-Nelson

Main address

75 Boyes Blvd

Sonoma, CA 95476 USA

Show more contact info



NTEE code info

Protection of Endangered Species (D31)

Natural Resource Conservation and Protection (C30)

Economic Development (S30)

IRS filing requirement

This organization is required to file an IRS Form 990 or 990-EZ.

Sign in or create an account to view Form(s) 990 for 2020, 2020 and 2019.
Register now



Programs and results

What we aim to solve

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

The endangered snow leopard inhabits high mountains of 12 countries in South and Central Asia, sharing the landscape with pastoralists heavily dependent upon livestock, and whose annual average household income is $250-$1,000. As wild prey are depleted, so snow leopards turn to domestic stock for survival. If they enter a poorly constructed night-time livestock pen, they can kill 10-50 or more valuable domestic animals in a single night. In this case, herders often resort to retributive killing of this iconic feline. SLC helps herder’s predator-proof enclosures, improve incomes and diversify livelihoods to help offset such loss -- actions that transform the community’s perception of snow leopards from being perceived as pests to being valued alive rather than dead. By becoming front-line stewards for this species and shared fragile high-mountain habitat, these communities are also preserving traditional customs and restoring their former deeply-rooted relationship with nature.

Our programs

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

What are the organization's current programs, how do they measure success, and who do the programs serve?

Priority Conservation Action - Reducing Human-Wildlife Conflict & Improving Herder’s Livelihoods

When the snow leopard preys upon livestock rather than native prey, herders resort to retributive killing of the snow leopard to alleviate the problem. In order to protect the snow leopard and change peoples’ attitudes so that it is seen as an asset rather than a threat, the Snow Leopard Conservancy works with herders to predator-proof their corrals, implement electronic light deterrents, and develop community-managed insurance programs and environmentally sustainable livelihood programs. The Conservancy also promotes ecotourism initiatives such as Himalayan Homestays in Ladakh India to reduce economic dependence on the raising of sheep and goats. Conservation actions like these are being implemented in all range countries where SLC works.

Population(s) Served

The Snow Leopard Conservancy’s range-country activities center around simple teaching tools appropriate for remote rural areas. We work through a network of local teachers, teacher-trainers, and nonprofit organizations, to develop and conduct classroom, after school activities, and festivals surrounding environmental awareness and biodiversity conservation. In addition, we work with our Land of the Snow Leopard Network partners to integrate the snow leopard into conservation education curricula throughout Central Asia with the Nomadic Nature Trunks program, spearheaded by our partners in Mongolia.
Our educational programs have taught conservation history and strategy to over 16,000 students in countries like Bhutan, Pakistan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Russia, and India. Our goal is to inspire the next generation of conservationists and help them acquire the tools and training needed to become stewards and guardians of their environments. Our programs build environmental awareness, local stewardship over biodiversity, community ownership of conservation projects, long-term self-reliance, and ecosystem health, while addressing the root causes that lead to human-wildlife conflict (see Section 6 for examples of representative outcomes and successes).

Population(s) Served

Since 2010, the Snow Leopard Conservancy has worked with its partners to build a coalition of Indigenous Cultural Practitioners (ICPs) who live and work in snow leopard habitat. The term ICP includes shamans, tribal medicine people, sacred site guardians, and revered elders. The conservation community increasingly recognizes that cultural and biological diversity are deeply linked and programs should take into account the ethical, cultural and spiritual values of nature. The framework for this creative merger is provided for in the United Nations’ Brundtland Report and Agenda 21 of the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
The goals in our Land of the Snow Leopard Network program are:
1. Merging western and indigenous approaches to scientific knowledge.
2. Establishing a precedent for Indigenous Cultural Practitioners (ICPs) to be co-equal partners in snow leopard conservation, standardize integration of relational world-views in such planning.
3. Revitalizing ancient ceremonies to remember and honor the snow leopard spirit as a unifier of humanity.
4. Establishing sacred sites as education/interpretive centers for the spiritual and terrestrial ecology of snow leopards.
5. Empowering cultural practitioners with new communication technologies, and building an on-line network.
Examples of successful outcomes include:
• An invitation to speak at the GSLEP 2017 Forum in Bishkek, and to stage student performances at the Forum and at the 2018 World Nomad Games, about the traditional taboo against killing a snow leopard.
• An invitation for LOSL representation at the Society for Conservation Biology Conference in Malaysia, July 2019 session on Indigenous Voices.
• Mongolian Shaman Buyanbadrakh led the effort to establish “Spirit Lord of Sutai Mountain,” now officially acknowledged as a spiritual and cultural sacred site.
• Norbu Lama, spiritual leader in Russia’s Buryat Republic, worked to achieve protected status for Okinsky district, now officially recognized as a Territory of Traditional Use of Natural Resources, including a sacred mountain.
• Nine incidents in Tajikistan of snow leopards being released back into the wild, instead of being killed after being caught killing local people’s livestock.

Population(s) Served
Indigenous peoples
Nomadic people

The Snow Leopard Conservancy conducts applied research and collaborates in close partnership with scientists from national and international universities, scientific institutions and NGOs. The Conservancy pioneers innovative techniques that support non-invasive baseline surveys of snow leopards, their prey and habitat, seeking to blend hard scientific information with indigenous knowledge and involving local people and communities in the monitoring of wildlife and its habitat. Indicators of success including SLC’s track record in producing the first peer-reviewed publications covering community-based implementation of predator-proofed corrals, homestays, non-invasive camera trap and genetic surveys. The latter have confirmed three snow leopard subspecies and documented details of the diet of individuals in different range states using genetic metabarcoding techniques. SLC has also produce a detailed GIS map predicting population patches, breeding habitat and connecting corridors for the entire snow leopard range at a fine scale of resolution (90-270 meters).

Population(s) Served

Where we work


Global Vision Award, Community Outreach: Himalayan Homestays 2005

Travel + Leisure

Goals & Strategy

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Learn about the organization's key goals, strategies, capabilities, and progress.

Charting impact

Four powerful questions that require reflection about what really matters - results.

The goal of the Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) is to ensure the rare snow leopard (Panthera uncia; currently listed as Vulnerable on IUCN’s Red List) thrives across its vast range in South and Central Asia, encompassing 12 countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan).
The main threats to its survival include human-wildlife conflict due to livestock depredation, poaching, prey depletion, habitat degradation and large-scale infrastructure development (e.g., mining, roads).

Working in representative landscapes through trusted partnerships with local organizations, conservationists and communities, SLC’s goals center around building local capacity for (1) mitigating human-wildlife conflict; (2) diversifying livelihoods and improving household income in environmentally friendly and culturally responsible ways; (3) supporting local communities to monitor snow leopards and their prey, along with enhancing rangeland productivity and biodiversity; (4) engaging teachers, schoolchildren and youths in awareness outreach; and (5) mobilizing elders, sacred site guardians, shamans and village leaders to blend traditional knowledge with western science for conservation actions.

SLC catalyzes innovative, highly participatory, self-governing community-based conservation programs that serve as models for others, while simultaneously building in-country capacity of individuals and organizations for snow leopard conservation, research and education. Our programs and activities are designed according to the following key guiding principles: targeting the root, underlying threats affecting the species and its habitat; ensuring the project’s economic and social investments generate tangible, verifiable conservation outputs; requiring equitable co-financing from each partner; ensuring participatory planning from the onset; and monitoring project performance and impact according to site-specific action plans imbedded with clear indicators for assessing programmatic success.

Representative program activities include (1) predator-proofing corrals and improving livestock guarding practices, including pioneering use of electronic deterrents; (2) establishing incentive-based initiatives that raise household income levels and diversify local livelihoods while also addressing climate change or pandemics like Covid-19; (3) fostering awareness and understanding of fragile mountain ecosystems and biodiversity, especially among children, teachers and decision-makers; and (4) encouraging participation in non-invasive, action-oriented research, melding scientific information with local traditional knowledge.

The Snow Leopard Conservancy supports the strategic approach of empowering local communities to protect the snow leopard and its fragile mountain ecosystem, in line with global and national biodiversity goals and government policies. Empowering indigenous organizations or select individuals to undertake linked conservation / development initiatives is the best path toward ensuring long-term sustainability for both wildlife and local people. We partner with enthused individuals, NGO's and village institutions capable and supportive of devoting significant presence in the field, valuing cost-effectiveness, ensuring equitability of gender, social status and ethnicity, and known for their ingenuity, creativity, passion and commitment to our cause. SLC trains stakeholders in "Best Practice" approaches to balancing conservation / development in remote, rural mountain areas. We provide carefully targeted grants to conscientiously vetted partners, as well as channeling resources through US-based researchers and associates of SLC for testing and evaluating the best non-invasive solutions in conserving snow leopards, their prey and habitat.

Currently SLC has hosts in eight range states working to resolve human-wildlife conflicts, provide economic incentives to local herders, support ecosystem services, and include the power of traditional knowledge/cultural conservation to strengthen western scientific approaches. SLC's overriding and long-term goals are to build and sustain the capacity of range-country conservationists and organizations to protect this flagship species. Of particular importance for conserving snow leopards is the inclusion of proven incentives enabling local herders and local communities to co-exist harmoniously with this rare predator that shares the same fragile mountain environment with people.
Our multi-pronged approach is designed to: (1) eliminate the threat of retributive killing associated with livestock depredation, in tandem with mitigating other kinds of human-wildlife conflict; (2) provide local people with alternative, environmentally-friendly livelihoods and/or enterprises that reduce household dependence on unsustainable livestock rearing and yet generate much-needed income to reduce widespread poverty, decrease reliance upon external food aid, and economically empower these remote households and communities; (3) protect local cultural heritage and values against outside pressures. These actions will assist the mountain people to achieve more of their own basic needs while realizing other aspirations, including affording their children a better education and reducing outward migration to urban centers. Additionally, a key SLC strategic goal is to blend the western scientific approach with local traditional knowledge for sustaining holistic and spiritually-fulfilling life-ways adapted to the local environment and thus more robust to adapting to climate change and other environmental forces.

The Snow Leopard Conservancy was founded by Dr. Rodney Jackson, widely recognized world expert on snow leopards and their habitat. SLC is a 501 c (3) non-profit organization headquartered in Sonoma, California with a largely independent branch (SLC-India Trust) in Ladakh, India.
Dr. Jackson’s 1980’s pioneering radio-tracking study of snow leopards in the Nepalese Himalaya led to a cover story in National Geographic. He has trained biologists across many of the snow leopard’s 12 range countries and pioneered community-based conservation using APPA (Appreciative Participatory Planning and Action), a highly empowering planning process for assisting local people to coexist with this rare and elusive predator. His and Darla Hillard’s work with rural communities led to the establishment of the Snow Leopard Conservancy program in 2000 and the pioneering of many grassroots interventions including predator-proofed corrals, Himalayan Homestays (village-based Bed & Breakfasts for domestic and international tourists), along with other economic incentives that have transformed snow leopard to being perceived as a valuable asset, appreciated alive rather than dead by local people. Today, the Conservancy is actively partnering with local communities in Pakistan, Nepal, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Russia, and India.
SLC has grown to six multidisciplinary staff members who collectively manage its partnerships, conservation and education programs, overseeing capacity-building, program development, administration, financial and general operations. Specifically, this core Sonoma staff and associates provide partners with technical support and funding vital to achieving effective results, including helping build local capacity, self-reliance, community empowerment and resilience to critical environmental threats like habitat degradation, biodiversity loss and climate change.
Range-country partnerships are fundamental to SLC’s goals: we are committed to helping build snow leopard conservation capacity within each range country, rather than relying upon foreign expertise to carry the day. Thus, the Snow Leopard Conservancy partners with local organizations and herder communities to preserve the biodiversity of Central Asia’s fragile high mountains by providing technical and financial assistance for habitat stewardship and biodiversity conservation. Our programs build community ownership, long-term self-reliance, and ecosystem health for both people and wildlife. We involve communities in non-invasive baseline monitoring of snow leopards, their prey and habitat, blending western science with indigenous knowledge.

SLC’s accomplishments are built upon Founder-Executive Director Dr. Rodney Jackson’s four decades of endeavor, starting with his pioneering 1980-85 study. Rodney and SLC also pioneered the following community-based conservation, non-invasive research and education programs:
•Predator-proofed over 100 corrals in Nepal, India, and Pakistan to greatly reduce the retaliatory killing of snow leopards by angry herders; supporting livestock insurance for other herders. Both interventions are now widely implemented by other NGOs and wildlife agencies across its range.
•Created four women-managed Savings & Credit groups in Nepal's Mt. Everest region, with a portion of interest from micro-loans supporting snow leopard conservation.
•Established the highly successful Himalayan Homestays “bed-and-breakfast” eco-tourism program in Ladakh, India.
•Snow Leopard Scouts Program in Nepal, where young students and herders monitor snow leopards and are inspired to become the next generation of environmental stewards.
•Trained over 100 park rangers and community leaders in field survey techniques, and mentoring over 12 Master's and Doctoral candidates.
•Facilitated annual Snow Leopard Day Festivals in Russia, Nepal, Mongolia, Pakistan and Bhutan, where primary and secondary students participate in concerts, poetry readings etc. focused on conservation of mountain ecosystems.
•Published children’s books, posters, and educational materials in four languages and distributed in six countries.
•Incentivized dog and livestock immunization programs in Bhutan's flagship Jigme Dorje National Park addressing a deadly 'mad-cow like' disease affecting yaks.
•Oversaw formation of the Land of Snow Leopard Network (LOSL) of Indigenous Cultural Practitioners in Central Asia to participate in conservation by blending traditional ecological knowledge with western science.
SLC’s ongoing goals include developing and piloting new approaches for making transformational changes in local communities and governance institutions, allowing them to assume greater responsibility for protecting snow leopards, prey and habitat, and for maintaining key corridors linking core populations:
•Continue to develop and apply innovative approaches to mitigating human-wildlife conflicts.
•Expand LOSL network of indigenous sacred site guardians, shamans and local community leaders ("Citizen Scientists") trained to monitor snow leopards, prey and habitat, as well as reporting threats like poaching or illegal mining.
•Expand community-managed economic incentives in Nepal's Annapurna Conservation Area and Mt- Everest (Sagarmatha) National Park drawing on Nepal’s constitutional devolution of powers.
•Support environmental education in Mongolia’s Altai and South Gobi regions with Nomadic Nature Trunks (NNC), and in Pakistan through the Baltistan Conservation Development Organizations (BWCDO), long-time partners.
•Conduct innovative, ground-breaking research into new survey techniques and conservation practices

How we listen

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

Seeking feedback from people served makes programs more responsive and effective. Here’s how this organization is listening.

done We shared information about our current feedback practices.
  • How is your organization collecting feedback from the people you serve?

    SMS text surveys, Paper surveys, Focus groups or interviews (by phone or in person), Community meetings/Town halls,

  • How is your organization using feedback from the people you serve?

    To identify bright spots and enhance positive service experiences, To make fundamental changes to our programs and/or operations, To inform the development of new programs/projects, To identify where we are less inclusive or equitable across demographic groups, To strengthen relationships with the people we serve,

  • With whom is the organization sharing feedback?

    The people we serve, Our staff, Our board, Our funders, Our community partners,

  • Which of the following feedback practices does your organization routinely carry out?

    We aim to collect feedback from as many people we serve as possible, We look for patterns in feedback based on people’s interactions with us (e.g., site, frequency of service, etc.), We engage the people who provide feedback in looking for ways we can improve in response, We ask the people who gave us feedback how well they think we responded,

  • What challenges does the organization face when collecting feedback?

    The people we serve tell us they find data collection burdensome, It is difficult to find the ongoing funding to support feedback collection, Staff find it hard to prioritize feedback collection and review due to lack of time,



Unlock financial insights by subscribing to our monthly plan.


Unlock nonprofit financial insights that will help you make more informed decisions. Try our monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights?
Learn more about GuideStar Pro.


The people, governance practices, and partners that make the organization tick.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Connect with nonprofit leaders


Build relationships with key people who manage and lead nonprofit organizations with GuideStar Pro. Try a low commitment monthly plan today.

  • Analyze a variety of pre-calculated financial metrics
  • Access beautifully interactive analysis and comparison tools
  • Compare nonprofit financials to similar organizations

Want to see how you can enhance your nonprofit research and unlock more insights? Learn More about GuideStar Pro.


Board of directors
as of 03/14/2023
SOURCE: Self-reported by organization
Board chair

Dr. Rodney Jackson

Snow Leopard Conservancy

Term: 2022 -

Caroline Gabel

Shared Earth Foundation

Rodney Jackson

Snow Leopard Conservancy

Mary Herrmann

Retired Microbiologist

Tshewang Wangchuk

Bhutan Foundation

Bob Wilson

Greater Farallones Association

Carolyn MacKenzie

Interfaith Council of Contra Costa County

Raja Bhadury


Eric A Newsom


Board leadership practices

SOURCE: Self-reported by organization

GuideStar worked with BoardSource, the national leader in nonprofit board leadership and governance, to create this section.

  • Board orientation and education
    Does the board conduct a formal orientation for new board members and require all board members to sign a written agreement regarding their roles, responsibilities, and expectations? Yes
  • CEO oversight
    Has the board conducted a formal, written assessment of the chief executive within the past year ? Not applicable
  • Ethics and transparency
    Have the board and senior staff reviewed the conflict-of-interest policy and completed and signed disclosure statements in the past year? Yes
  • Board composition
    Does the board ensure an inclusive board member recruitment process that results in diversity of thought and leadership? Yes
  • Board performance
    Has the board conducted a formal, written self-assessment of its performance within the past three years? Not applicable

Organizational demographics

SOURCE: Self-reported; last updated 10/13/2022

Who works and leads organizations that serve our diverse communities? Candid partnered with CHANGE Philanthropy on this demographic section.


The organization's leader identifies as:

Race & ethnicity
Gender identity
Sexual orientation
Heterosexual or straight
Disability status
Person without a disability

Race & ethnicity

Gender identity


Sexual orientation


Equity strategies

Last updated: 07/30/2020

GuideStar partnered with Equity in the Center - an organization that works to shift mindsets, practices, and systems to increase racial equity - to create this section. Learn more

  • We review compensation data across the organization (and by staff levels) to identify disparities by race.
  • We disaggregate data to adjust programming goals to keep pace with changing needs of the communities we support.
  • We employ non-traditional ways of gathering feedback on programs and trainings, which may include interviews, roundtables, and external reviews with/by community stakeholders.
Policies and processes
  • We use a vetting process to identify vendors and partners that share our commitment to race equity.
  • We seek individuals from various race backgrounds for board and executive director/CEO positions within our organization.
  • We help senior leadership understand how to be inclusive leaders with learning approaches that emphasize reflection, iteration, and adaptability.
  • We engage everyone, from the board to staff levels of the organization, in race equity work and ensure that individuals understand their roles in creating culture such that one’s race identity has no influence on how they fare within the organization.