Every month, WCS receives letters from the local communities along the Wakhan Corridor, asking WCS for their help following incidents of predation. In remote, subsistence communities such as those in Wakhan, a family’s whole economic security is centered around their livestock which are used for cropping, transportation, trade and for their meat and skins. When predators such as wolves and snow leopards lose significant parts of their habitat and prey, they are left with little choice but to predate on a village’s domestic stock, and this can devastate the income of whole families and the larger community.
Recent data collected by Wakhan school students showed that 378 stock animals were allegedly killed by predators across the 42 Wakhi villages in 2008. This represents a possible loss of roughly $42,630 to the local economy - a significant impact for a very poor community to sustain. Often, farmers who are desperate to prevent further losses to their livelihoods, go on the hunt for any predators in the area, putting further pressure on already-vulnerable carnivore populations. In 2009, two snow leopards were reportedly killed in two districts in the Wakhan, as retaliation for livestock deaths.
Solutions proposed have included compensation or insurance schemes for predation-related losses. Predator-proof corrals are already being used by the Wakhi communities in Hunza in Pakistan and were visited by local community representatives from the Wakhan Corridor during a WCS trip in 2008. After seeing how safely enclosed the livestock were in these corrals, WCS agreed to pilot the same scheme in Wakhan as part of an integrated management strategy. Working alongside the WPA, District Government and local Community Development Councils, WCS completed the first two corrals in Yishmurgh and Wardif villages at the end of 2010. Taking 20 villagers 10-12 days to build one, the largest corral at Yishmurgh measures 15x8 m and houses approximately 500 livestock from four villages. They are made from a strong, double-break stone structure with no cement or mud render, and have a log and wire mesh roof. Other than protecting local livestock and predators through mitigating the human-predator conflict, these corrals are providing valuable employment opportunities for the communities, with WCS hiring local masons and laborers to build and maintain the structures. They are proving to be popular among the communities already, with requests coming in from other Wakhan villages and from the Kyrgyz and Wakhi communities in the Pamirs.