In the Spitian language, “shen” means snow leopard. Located in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh, Spiti Valley is one of the few remaining places on earth where snow leopards can be found. Since 2013, women from two of the region’s villages have been working with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) to help protect this endangered species. Known as Project SHEN, the women engage in community development and conservation efforts, and showcase their handicraft skills by creating handmade items such as stationary and jewelry that is sold locally and online. The project has brought about dramatic changes in the lives of the women, as they gain greater independence and self-sufficiency, while making a difference to their community and its wildlife. “They are the custodians of their pastures and mountains,” says Kulbhushan Suryawanshi.
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