Community-based conservation, unlike the traditional top-down management, focuses on encouraging and promoting button-up grassroots conservation efforts from local communities. In 2010, a catastrophic earthquake made the world know about Yushu, a mysterious highland city. In 2009, Shan Shui arrived here and began its ecological conservation work throughout the Sanjiangyuan area. Starting with snow leopard research, Shan Shui promoted wildlife monitoring in various places and gradually incorporated community forces into conservation actions. Starting with monitoring, the herders of Sanjiangyuan have gradually become experienced and carried out many conservation actions. With the establishment of Sanjiangyuan National Park, the herders of the Valley of Cats have officially become rangers of the national park.
社區監測 Community Monitoring
高原上的動物們神出鬼沒，紅外相機網格監測成為了科學家們研究野生動物情況的重要手段。而廣漠的草甸、陡峭的高山再加上高原稀薄的空氣，都成為需要克服的難點。 好在，高原上的牧民們有著極其適應當地環境的身體素質，對自家放牧區域的動物情況了如指掌，更是對紅外相機這一新奇的東西充滿了興趣。于是，經過系統培訓后，牧民們正式接過紅外相機，開始了監測。 結果是令人鼓舞的。
Wildlife on the Plateau are difficult to find, so infrared camera grid monitoring has become an important tool for scientists to study the status of wildlife. The vast meadows, steep mountains and the thin air of the Plateau are all become difficulties to overcome. Fortunately, the herders on the Plateau have the physical quality of being extremely adapted to the local environment. They know the animals in their own grazing areas well, and are interested in the novelty of infrared cameras. So, after systematic training, the herders officially took over the infrared cameras and started monitoring. The results were encouraging.
在昂賽，通過社區監測首次發現金錢豹與雪豹棲息地的重疊， 并成功識別了85只雪豹個體和12只金錢豹個體； 在嘉塘， 社區監測為我們展示出荒漠貓一家三口的故事； 另外，水獺、棕熊、巖羊等動物，都在社區監測的幫助下，逐漸被我們熟知。目前，在三江源，總共有6個社區肩負科學監測的工作。而在昂賽，已經完成了全鄉網格化覆蓋， 共有88臺相機、91位管理員。 相機位點的選擇也需要結合網格和管理員自家草場的位置，便于他們的日常維護。
In Angsai, the overlap between the habitat of the snow leopard and that of the common leopard was discovered for the first time through community monitoring, and 85 individual snow leopards and 12 individual common leopards were successfully identified in the process. In Jiatang, community monitoring successfully demonstrated the story of a family of three Chinese mountain cats. Otters, brown bears, blue sheep and other animals are also gradually becoming familiar to people with the help of community monitoring. At present, there are a total of six communities that are responsible for the scientific monitoring in Sanjiangyuan. In Angsai, the monitoring work has reached full coverage of the entire township, with 88 cameras and 91 community monitoring members. The choice of camera locations also needs to fit in with the location of grids and administrators’ pastures to facilitate their daily maintenance.
一戶一崗，反盜獵巡護 Nomadic Ecological Rangers
三江源國家公園試點成立后， 一戶一崗制度開始推行，簡單來說， 就是國家公園內的每一戶都選一名成員成為國家公園巡護員，負責反盜獵巡護、野生動物目擊記錄及垃圾清理等工作， 并接受考核，領取工資。這對于當地人來說無疑是一件好事，即增加了收入，又成為了重要的守護力量。
After the establishment of the Sanjiangyuan National Park pilot project, the “One Ranger per Household” system was carried out. Every household in the national park will have one family member as a national park ranger, responsible for anti-poaching patrol, wildlife sighting records and garbage removal. They will be evaluated and receive salary for such work. This is certainly a good thing for the local people. It increases their income and make the local people an important conservation force.
At present, efforts are made to improve and promote the assessment system of rangers and try to combine the work of patrol and monitoring for those who are responsible for both. How can community conservation actions be sustainable in the long run? After the local people lose novelty of the infrared camera and taking photos, how can they continue to voluntarily participate in conservation? This is a core challenge in community-based conservation. For this reason, we are trying to encourage long-term sustainable community-based conservation through the model of "Capacity Building - Alternative Livelihoods - Conservation Motivation" in the Valley of the Cats.
社區能力建設 Capacity Building
Capacity building is not just about trainings, learning about wildlife, placing infrared cameras, patrolling, and acting as guides. It is about helping communities build their capacity to self-management and decision-making on their own. From community interviews, meetings, to voting, communities are increasingly expressing their opinions. In Angsai, we worked with community to discuss and develop a management scheme for the nature watch project, and the community elected 4 administrators on their own to oversee community’s public affairs. Other communities have also formed co-management groups that give more autonomy to the community.
人獸沖突基金 Human-wildlife Conflict Fund
In Sanjiangyuan, wolves, brown bears and snow leopards are known as the top three predators of domestic animals, causing considerable losses to local people every year. Since 2016, a “Snow Leopard Insurance Fund” with a total amount of 220,000 RMB has been established in Niandu Village, Angsai Township, through government input, participation of private organizations and insurance for herders. By the end of the pilot project, the fund has compensated for 222 cases of human-wildlife conflict accidents. It has been effective in reducing herders’ losses and moderating herder’s view towards wild animals.
Currently, there are pilot projects of human-wildlife conflict fund in other areas as well. These funds are hoped to fill the gap of market-based insurance and further reduce the losses of local communities in order to alleviate conflicts between human and wild animals.
社區替代生計 Alternative Livelihoods
如何讓當地人從保護中直接獲益， 自然體驗給出了一種可能。 結合雪豹監測活動節律分析及自然觀察節的嘗試，社區開展了自然體驗試點。由當地示范戶擔任接待家庭和向導，帶領游客體驗當地的民俗風情、觀看野生動物。 全部的收益100%留在社區，采用這樣小規模、負責任的生態體驗形式，為社區帶來直接收益。 截止2021年底，自然體驗已經為為社區帶來了173.7萬元的總收益，其中社區公共基金78.2萬元。 另有17.4萬元將用于成立野生動物保護基金，來支持當地社區自發的保護行動。
Nature watch offers a possibility that allows local people to benefit directly from conservation. With consideration of the snow leopard monitoring data and experience from nature watch festivals, the community has launched a pilot nature watch program. Local people serve as host families and guides, leading visitors to experience local folklore and view wildlife. All proceeds from the program will be distributed to the community. Such small-scale responsible ecotourism will bring direct benefits to the community. As of the end of 2021, nature watch program has generated 1,737,000 RMB in total revenue for the community, including 782,000 in community public funds. Another 174,000 will be used to establish a wildlife conservation fund to support spontaneous conservation initiatives in local communities.
This model will also be promoted to other communities in the Sanjiangyuan area.