Nepal leads the way in snow leopard conservation

Kathmandu, August 23

Nepal has made conservation history by becoming the first country to launch its climate-smart snow leopard landscape management plan, leading the way in safeguarding the endangered species and its habitat.

Nepal’s conservation plan launched today ahead of the International Snow Leopard Summit and Ecosystem Forum in Bishkek of Kyrgyzstan, addresses key current and emerging threats to snow leopards including climate change and will be used as a model for other range countries to adopt.

Prakash Mathema, secretary at Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation said, “This is the first climate-smart landscape management plan for snow leopard conservation in the world and is evidence of the Government of Nepal’s high level of commitment to this goal. It could not have been possible without the support of local communities, conservation organisations and other committed partners.”

“Nepal’s efforts alone are not enough to protect this elusive species and its transboundary habitat. I request our national and international conservation partners and donors to support us as we move ahead with the important task of implementing this plan,” he added.

Ghana S Gurung, conservation director, World Wide Fund for Nature-Nepal, said, “We are thrilled that Nepal has become the first of the 12 snow leopard range countries to produce its landscape management plan and make conservation history. The plan addresses even the toughest challenges including tackling the complex impacts of climate change. Nepal has once again established itself as a leader in conservation, showing much-needed ambition despite facing some of the toughest environmental, economic and political conditions.”

Conservationist Gurung said it sent a clear message to the international community that Nepal was fully committed to safeguarding the snow leopard and its habitat, on which millions of people depend.

“Nepal has set a strong precedent and paved the way for the ambitious goal set by all 12 range countries — to secure 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020 — to be achieved,” Gurung informed.

The International Snow Leopard Summit and Ecosystem Forum officially opens tomorrow in Bishkek.

At the meeting, world leaders will hold critical talks to strengthen previous commitments to safeguard the future of the snow leopard and its habitat — the headwaters for rivers on which hundreds of millions directly depend as a source of freshwater, according to World Wide Fund for Nature-Nepal.

It has been four years since the range countries first met in 2013, when they committed to an ambitious goal of securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.

This has brought the plight of this endangered iconic species into the spotlight and created hope that commitment from the range country governments could set an example of conservation success worldwide.