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Asian coun­tries make his­toric pledge to save the snow leopard

pub­lished 23 Octo­ber 2013 | mod­i­fied 13 Sep­tem­ber 2014

Rep­re­sen­ta­tives from Kyr­gyzs­tan and 11 other Cen­tral and South Asian coun­tries made a his­toric pledge today to pro­tect and con­serve snow leop­ards and their habi­tat in the high-​mountain land­scapes of Asia.

snow leopardJoined by con­ser­va­tion experts from around the world and the inter­na­tional donor com­mu­nity, the 12 nations endorsed the Bishkek Dec­la­ra­tion on Snow Leop­ard Con­ser­va­tion and the Global Snow Leop­ard and Ecosys­tem Pro­tec­tion Pro­gram. The dec­la­ra­tion marks the first time that gov­ern­ments and non-​governmental organ­i­sa­tions have teamed up to con­serve snow leop­ards and their habitat.

Like many species, the snow leop­ard or ‘ghost of the moun­tain’ is vul­ner­a­ble to poach­ing dri­ven by the ille­gal wildlife trade. In addi­tion, snow leop­ards are killed by farm­ers in retal­i­a­tion for prey­ing on live­stock, and face a declin­ing habi­tat range due to over­graz­ing, infra­struc­ture devel­op­ment and the impacts of cli­mate change. The snow leop­ard is con­sid­ered Endan­gered accord­ing the IUCN Red List of Threat­ened Species™.

This is a mon­u­men­tal moment for snow leop­ards. It’s thrilling to see the bright­est minds in the field of con­ser­va­tion team together to pre­serve this iconic cat, but also do it in a way that holds a pos­i­tive impact beyond the snow leopard
John Far­ring­ton, WWF Pro­gram Manager »

It is esti­mated that fewer than 7,500 snow leop­ards remain in the wild. The goal of the ini­tia­tive is to pro­tect 20 snow leop­ard land­scapes that have over 100 breed­ing adults by 2020, and to pro­mote sus­tain­able devel­op­ment in areas where the species lives.

The sum­mit and work of the gov­ern­ment of the Kyr­gyzs­tan, the World Bank, range states and the other part­ners is bring­ing the plight of the snow leop­ard to the atten­tion of the world. Sav­ing snow leop­ards and man­ag­ing the high-​mountain land­scapes of Asia also helps main­tain water and food secu­rity for upland and down­stream com­mu­ni­ties alike. More­over, the moun­tain land­scapes of Asia are highly vul­ner­a­ble to the impacts of cli­mate change. Build­ing adap­ta­tion mea­sures for con­ser­va­tion, local com­mu­ni­ties and national economies into the plan will cre­ate for a more sus­tain­able future.

WWF works with part­ners to raise aware­ness at local, national and regional lev­els across the snow leop­ard range coun­tries about the need to con­serve the species. Together with the US Agency for Inter­na­tional Devel­op­ment, WWF imple­ments cli­mate adap­ta­tion projects, for exam­ple by expand­ing pro­tected areas, diver­si­fy­ing liveli­hoods, and works to improve man­age­ment of pas­tures, water and forests.

Stun­ning footage of the wild snow leop­ard Bayad in Pak­istan from the BBC doc­u­men­tary “Snow Leop­ard: Beyond the Myth”

(Source: WWF-​global news, 23.10.2013; Snow Leop­ard Trust, 23.10.2013)

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