High priority accorded to snow leopard conservation: Minister

Kathmandu, October 24

Minister of Forests and Environment Shakti Bahadur Basnet said Nepal has given high priority to protecting the snow leopard.

Addressing the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection’s fourth standing committee meeting that kicked off in the Indian capital New Delhi yesterday, Minister Basnet reiterated that protection of snow leopard was one of the major tasks for ecosystem conservation.

Minister Basnet also pointed out that habitat loss and lack of food as well as human-wildlife conflict were the biggest challenges to protecting the snow leopard.

Stating that the local community, especially youths in the community, were made a part of the efforts to protect the snow leopard with the realisation that the government’s lone efforts would not be sufficient, he said this initiative was found to be effective.

He shared that the government had been preparing to set up a Himalayan Research Centre to carry out research for the conservation of snow leopard and its species, adding that 12 protected areas have also been declared for the protection of wildlife and the environment.

Highlighting that apart from the local community, Nepal wanted to further expand cooperation with the private sector and national and international community working in the conservation sector, Minister Basnet proposed to establish a regional mechanism for stopping the illegal trade of body parts of endangered animals.

He also informed the meeting regarding the provision of providing immediate relief and compensation to the families of persons killed by wildlife, including the snow leopard.

Minister Basnet drew the attention of the meeting to the need to be serious about rapid melting of snow in the Himalayas due to climate change, which would impact the habitat of snow leopard as well.

On the occasion, he invited participants of the meet to visit Nepal during Visit Nepal 2020.

Representatives of countries which provide habitat for snow leopard, including Nepal, China, India, Pakistan, Bhutan, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia and Russia are attending the meeting.

In Nepal, the snow leopard is found in the Kanchanjunga Conservation Area east of Api Nampa in the west.

The snow leopard population in Nepal is estimated to be more than 500.