Nepal leads the way in snow leopard conservation at global summit

Posted on 23 August 2017

Nepal makes conservation history by becoming the first country to launch its climate-smart snow leopard landscape management plan.
Bishkek, 23 August 2017 - 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 species and its habitat. Nepal’s conservation plan launched today ahead of the International Snow Leopard Summit and Ecosystem Forum in 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 Nepal’s Ministry of Forests and Soil Conservation adds:
“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 organizations 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.”

Ghana S. Gurung, Conservation Director, WWF-Nepal said:
“We are thrilled that Nepal has become the first of the twelve 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. It sends a clear message to the rest of the world that Nepal is 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 twelve range countries - to secure 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020 - to be achieved. ”

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

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 iconic species into the spotlight and created hope that commitment from the range country governments could set an example of conservation success worldwide. However, as we pass the half-way point, there remain as few as 4,000 snow leopards and its habitat, which is home to the headwaters of 20 major rivers in Asia and known as the ‘world’s water towers’, continues to shrink.

Nepal has shown exemplary effort by launching its plan which tackles the complex challenges facing these habitats including the pervasive effects of climate change. This comes ahead of the Bishkek Declaration which will be signed by all twelve range states at the close of the summit and must pave the way for more substantial action in securing 20 snow leopard landscapes by 2020.


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Snow leopard (Uncia uncia) in winter.
© Klein & Hubert/WWF
Snow leopard traversing a rocky slope
© National Geographic Stock /Steve Winter / WWF