With the experience of Nature Watch Festival, Shan Shui, the community, local government and other nature conservation enthusiasts began to form some ideas -- they hoped to figure out a model that could integrate the demand of species conservation, community development, public participation and government management. Since then, the local community cooperative of Angsai, with the support of Shan Shui Conservation Center and local government, has launched a series of nature watch activities, with local herders serving as nature watch guides and host families and leading nature watch participates to view rare wildlife such as snow leopards, enjoy the natural and cultural landscape, and experience pastoral life.
From 2018 to 2020, the cooperative has worked with Shan Shui Conservation Center to conduct 7 comprehensive guide training sessions for 21 selected host families. These sessions include in-home training of cooking skills, hospitality services, and general health knowledge for each family respective.
Shan Shui has also discussed many times with the community to complete the design of the management mechanism, including the cooperative’s management charter and the code for nature watch participants. It has also completed the design of a series of nature program products, including the trilingual manual, bilingual host family manual, and materials of host families and established the website “Valley of the Cats” for the promotion and reservation of Angsai nature watch program（valleyofthecats.org.cn）.
At the same time, Shan Shui has assisted the community to hold several meetings. In addition to the more important decisions such as selecting host families, changing the term of management team, etc., it also helped with the discussion of details in aspects of management and hospitality. There were inevitably arguments and repetitions of opinions, but it was through these adjustments and changes that the community members became more involved, and promoted the constant improvement of nature watch program with a more in-depth understanding and thinking.
After many discussions and negotiations with members of the cooperative, Angsai Nature Watch Program started to adopt a collective community revenue distribution system at the end of 2018. The current charging standard is 1,000 RMB/car/day for transportation and guide, and 300 RMB/person/night for food and accommodation. 45% of the total proceeds from the project will be earned by the host families, 45% incorporated into a community fund for public affairs, and 10% used for ecological conservation in the Angsai area (e.g. establishing a community wildlife conservation fund).
The program started in 2018. By 2021, the Angsai Nature Watch program has hosted 169 nature watch teams from around the world with a total of 479 visits, bringing in over 1.73 million RMB in total revenue to the community, including approximately 950,000 RMB in community fund and an average increase in income of 37,000 RMB for host families.