Leaders from all twelve countries where snow leopards roam will come together this August in Kyrgyzstan. Tell them to take strong action to #SaveSnowLeopards now.
To the leaders of the twelve countries,
I urge you to take strong action to protect the snow leopard. I request that your representatives pledge concrete action when they meet this August for the International Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Forum.
In 2013, you all came together for the first time and agreed on an ambitious and inspirational plan to secure 20 landscapes for snow leopards by 2020. Thank you for your leadership. You’ve made a promising start and I applaud you for taking these important first steps.
But now it’s time to make significant progress.
On average one snow leopard is being killed every day by poachers or local communities trying to protect their livestock. There are also large parts of the cat’s habitat at risk from unsustainable, poorly planned development and exploitation. Ironically, we do not even know how many of these magnificent cats are exist in the wild, with less than 2% of the snow leopard’s global range ever been systematically sampled to assess populations.
Time is running out. Please secure their landscapes with local community support and sustainable development, tackle illegal trade and ensure survival of the snow leopards.
I respectfully ask you to
Ensure that the snow leopard landscapes are secured and protected with the involvement and support of local communities through long-term management plans implemented by all sectors of government and other stakeholders.
Create and implement a joint strategy with all range countries to combat poaching and illegal trade of snow leopards
Support a range-wide, scientifically sound assessment of their remaining population to better inform conservation management
Ensure that all infrastructure development in mountain ecosystems is sustainable and does not threaten snow leopards or their habitats
Work with local communities to develop projects that will promote sustainable development in snow leopard landscapes, helping to decrease rural poverty while respecting the needs of wildlife.
From Bhutan to China, this remarkable species plays a key role as both top predator and an indicator of the health of its high-altitude habitat. If snow leopards thrive so will countless other species, as well as the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on the rivers flowing down from Central Asia's mountains.
Indeed, snow leopard habitat provides important resources for local communities – from food and medicine to grazing for livestock, and wood for shelter, heat and fuel. As well as water sources for millions of people downstream.
Poaching: Snow leopards have long been killed for their beautiful fur, but their bones and other body parts are also used in Traditional Asian Medicine. And the illegal trade in snow leopard parts appears to be increasing
Conflict with communities: Herders sometimes kill snow leopards in retaliation for attacking their livestock. And the decline in the leopard’s natural prey - due to hunting, competition from increasing livestock herds, and habitat loss - is forcing them to rely more on livestock for food and increasing the risk of retaliatory killings.
Habitat loss: Snow leopards need vast areas to thrive, but expanding human and livestock populations are rapidly encroaching on their habitat. New roads and mines are also fragmenting their remaining range.
Changing climate: All these threats will be exacerbated by the impact of climate change on the fragile mountain environment - putting the future of snow leopards at even greater risk.
What WWF is doing
WWF has been working for many years to conserve the snow leopard by supporting a range of projects across Central Asia to reduce conflict between leopards and people, boost rural development, and control the illegal wildlife trade. For example, we’ve helped build leopard-proof livestock pens, and we’ve set up compensation schemes for farmers who lose livestock to snow leopards. And supported camera traps and collaring to learn more about this elusive species. In 2015, WWF launched its first ever network-wide Species Action Plan for snow leopards.