Conservation of Snow Leopard

Conservation of Snow Leopard

Project Animal(s) : Snow leopard (Panthera uncia)
Project Category : Mammals
Project Region : Across the World, Asia, Europe
Project Type : Conservation
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Project is timebound? : No

The snow leopard is included in Appendix I of CITES and fully protected across all of its range. Conservation actions for the snow leopard include the establishment of new protected areas. About 200 protected areas are thought to contain snow leopards with a combined area in excess of 1.3 million km². However, nearly 40% of the protected areas are less than 500 km² and likely contain only a few breeding pairs. Most are inhabited by people and livestock, and not all have management plans. It is therefore important to improve protected area design and management in respect for the needs of snow leopards, and to enhance snow leopard conservation outside protected areas.

Better grazing management and livestock husbandry, improvement of livestock corals, livestock vaccination, livestock insurance, alternative livelihoods, re-establishment of prey populations, conservation education and community engagement programmes are some of the steps taken to reduce conflicts between local people and snow leopards. Of utmost importance is bringing local people into the process of conserving snow leopards and other wildlife. To reach that goal, more and more international groups are working to reduce poaching and persecution of snow leopards through community-based initiatives that provide an economic incentive to do so. Moreover, training and capacity-building and anti-poaching measures are conducted. Anti-poaching efforts were for example strengthened in Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan and wire-snares were removed and former poachers recruited as protected area rangers in parts of Russia. Incentive programmes and innovative community programmes have been established in several snow leopard range states.

The Snow Leopard Network was established to unite individuals and organisations for better cooperation and information sharing and to help implement the Snow Leopard Survival Strategy. The International Conference on Range-wide Conservation Planning for Snow Leopards held in Beijing in 2008 brought experts together to improve the knowledge base. Important areas for snow leopard conservation were identified and a framework for the development of national action plans was provided. As part of the 2013 Global Snow Leopard Forum in Bishkek, all range countries developed National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (NSLEP). These are summarised in the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (GSLEP) document. Many of the range countries, as part of their own internal national exercises, have developed official Snow Leopard Action Plans or Strategies. Some have been officially approved, while others have awaited approval for varying lengths of time. Several of these country specific plans are available in the online library of the Snow Leopard Network. Countries with formally adopted action plans include India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan and Russia, while Tajikistan and Uzbekistan have plans drafted that have yet to be adopted by the government. The Snow Leopard Survival Strategy has been revised. All these activities have improved the strategic framework for the conservation of the snow leopard at a global level.

Beside these efforts, there is still a need for building more conservation capacity, strengthening international cooperation, developing range states’ national legislation and improving law enforcement to prohibit killing and trading of snow leopards or their body parts. Detailed information about abundance and status of snow leopards is still limited mostly due to its elusive behaviour, low population densities and rugged mountain habitat difficult to access. Therefore, long-term studies and further investigations are needed.

Project Agency : Cat Specialist Group

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