Over 200,000 sign petition to protect snow leopard landscapes
Bishkek : More than 200,000 people around the world have signed a call to ensure that snow leopard landscapes are secured with the involvement of local communities through long-term management plans, it was announced on Friday.
Leaders from 12 range countries and international partners, gathered in Bishkek, raised this demand through a joint petition by Snow Leopard Trust, WWF and Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union.
Four years ago, range country leaders had first gathered here to launch the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program at the invitation of Kyrgyz President Almazbek Atambayev.
This time at the halfway point of this multi-country conservation initiative, they came together once again to take stock of progress made and discuss further efforts that will be needed to reach the goal they set for themselves, an official statement by summit organisers said.
The participants at the summit highlighted the need to protect fragile snow leopard ecosystems across the mountains of Asia and to address the emerging threat of climate change across the snow leopard range.
"Range countries and partners have made impressive progress since 2013. They've done a lot of important ground work that has set us up for success. The snow leopard still faces increasing threats, and they need to be addressed urgently," an official statement quoting Snow Leopard Trust's Executive Director Michael Despines said.
Traditional direct threats, including the snow leopard poaching and retaliation killings, continue to loom large.
Indirect threats such as climate change, the degradation of snow leopard habitat and prey base, illegal hunting or unsustainable infrastructure development add to the pressure.
Along with organisations such as United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Global Environment Facility (GEF), United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and World Wide Fund, the GTI Council and German conservation group Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU), the Snow Leopard Trust is one of the strategic partners of the summit.