Pakistan reaffirms its support for Snow Leopard Conservation in Global Snow Leopard Forum 2017

A delegation from Pakistan led by Mr. Mushahid Ullah Khan Federal Minister Climate Change participated in the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum 2017 held on August 24-25 in Bishkek, Kyrgyz Republic. The forum was organized by Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) Secretariat. Ministers and representatives of 12 snow leopard range countries, as well as heads and representatives of international organizations were among the participants of the forum. Addressing the forum, Mr. Mushahid Ullah Khan shared the geographic characteristics of snow leopard mountain ranges in Pakistan including Hindu Kush, Pamir, Karakorum and Himalayas. He recalled the first ever snow leopard GPS collaring was done in Pakistan which helped in monitoring and evaluating the valuable insights in snow leopard ecology. It also strengthened the transboundary cooperation in conservation of snow leopard and other species. The Federal Minister informed the participants about start of snow leopard conservation efforts in Pakistan in 70s and the friendly policies of government which encouraged international conservation organizations to begin their work in Pakistan. In 1990 the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) initiated its interventions in the country which further organized and helped the ongoing conservation efforts to international standards. It also paved way for other conservation organizations such as WWF, IUCN, WCS and BWCDO to join SLT and contributed in snow leopard conservation efforts in Pakistan. The inception of Snow Leopard Foundation in 2008 was a milestone that established a solid scientific entity dedicated to work on the snow leopard conservation with the cooperation of stakeholders including the academia, students, local communities and the provincial wildlife departments. Pakistan has endorsed the GSLEP by developing its National Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Priorities (NSLEP) and joined other range countries for achieving the goal of “securing 20 landscapes by 2020” three of which falls in Pakistan, said the Federal Minister. He also highlighted the major contributions of Pakistan government so far to achieve the GSLEP goals. Government of Pakistan has allocated 4.5 million USD under GEF-6 cycle for the implementation of NSLEP, the project is expected to initiate in 2018. On the direction and keen interest of the Prime Minister of Pakistan, the “Green Pakistan Programme” has been started this year with a total cost of PKR 3.56 billion for next five years. The Karakoram-Pamir Landscape Management Plan” is in the final stages and shall be endorsed after review by the GSLEP Secretariat. The Federal Minister particularly mentioned about the community support and capacity building programs such as construction of predator proof corrals and livestock insurance schemes initiated by provincial governments in collaboration with SLF, WWF and BWCDO in more than 50 valleys. SLF has started ecosystem health program and snow leopard enterprise schemes for enhancing household income of local communities. Establishment of Nature Clubs in schools of program regions is part of capacity building and environmental education for youth. Describing the challenges and measures to tackle them, the Federal Minister told the participants about Government of Pakistan’s commitment to curb the illegal wildlife trade, lack of working knowledge and capacity of staff of departments and need of institutions for providing scientific education and information about the conservation and protection of snow leopard and its ecosystem. He further informed the participants that Government of Pakistan is actively considering to establish an endowment fund to encourage community’s active participation in conservation on a sustained basis after the completion of the GEF project. In the end, the Federal Minister thanked the President of Kyrgyz Republic for inviting the delegation and providing an opportunity to share and learn the valuable knowledge about snow leopard conservation efforts through GSLEP. He also wished all the participants of the forum a great success and significant results after the summit which would be beneficial for the conservation efforts globally.