21-23 October: Government Ministers of twelve Snow Leopard Range countries and Heads of International Conservation Community gathered in Bishkek, Kyrgystan Republic, for the first ever Global Snow Leopard Forum (GSLF). The delegates discussed urgent action required for the conservation of the iconic but highly endangered species of the mountain ecosystem. The twelve range countries are: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgystan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
President Almazbek Atambayev of Kyrgyz Republic initiated the multi-country effort by reaching out to the Governments of Range Countries and international conservation community through a letter of intention submitted at the Second Asian Ministerial Conference on Tiger Conservation held in Thimphu on 23 October 2012. Their intention was not only acknowledged by the conference members but also helped to gain tremendous support among the Governments of the range countries in moving forward this noble initiative.
At Bishkek, several consultations took place among the Government delegates to concretize the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Programme (GSLEPP) and Bhutan among other range countries chaired a session on Conservation Leadership. President Atambayev chaired the high segment on October 23 and the range countries unanimously endorsed the comprehensive new global program, promising a multifaceted approach across the snow leopard range to:
- Engage local communities in conservation, promote sustainable livelihoods, and address human wildlife conflict;
- Combat poaching and illegal trade networks, including through transboundary collaboration and enforcement;
- Seek to manage habitats on a landscape level;
- Work with industry and enterprises that operate in snow leopard habitats;
- Establish a core Secretariat to coordinate conservation activities, monitor program
- implementation, and mobilize financial resources for the program
The GSLEPP of the twelve countries in the first 7 years (2013-20) could cost US$150-200 million, though these figures are still being fine-tuned by the interim secretariat in close consultations with the respective countries. While, there is no clear direction on how the fund is going to be mobilized, international donors and multilateral development banks, non-governmental organizations, and the private sector are potentially expected to assist with possible financing for the program along with some marginal cost to be borne by the countries.
The Global Forum was hosted and organized by the President and Government of the Kyrgyz Republic, with organizational support, financing, and sponsorship from the Global Tiger Initiative, NABU, Snow Leopard Trust, United Nations Development Programme, World Bank, Global Environment Facility, Snow Leopard Conservancy, USAID, WWF, and the Snow Leopard Network. The four member Bhutanese delegation was led by Hon’ble Minister of Agriculture and Forests, HE Yeshy Dorji and accompanied by Mr. Sonam Wangchuk, Chief of Wildlife Conservation, Mr. Lhendup Tharchen, Park Manager of JDNP and Mr. Choifel, PS to Hon’ble Minister.
Compiled & reported by: Wildlife Conservation Division, DoFPS and photo by Dr. John Farington, WWF-US.
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