We started Himalayan Homestays in Ladakh in 2002; we being the Snow Leopard Conservancy, The Mountain Institute, local tour operators and villagers living in important snow leopard areas. In 1999, local people had expressed an interest in generating income from increasing numbers of visitors that passed through their villages, and wanted to offer a tourism experience that would benefit visitors, hosts and the local environment.
The first Homestays were established in Hemis National Park, “snow leopard capital of India,” in 2002 and later-on more villagers joined from Sham, another important snow leopard area. We hope that more communities in Ladakh will join the Himalayan Homestay network in 2004.
Homestays generate additional income for local people – helping offset unavoidable income losses from livestock depredation by snow leopards and other predators. With income from tourism that highlights wildlife viewing, local people have a reason to conserve predators which may threaten their herds, especially since poaching and retributive killing of snow leopards are the major threats across the Himalaya to this rare and beautiful cat.