My Affectionate Snow Leopard
A few days ago a presentation of a new environmental project “Sustainable use of natural resources and management of forests in key mountain regions important for globally significant biodiversity” took place in Tashkent.
It will be realized by the State Committee for Ecology and Environmental Protection and the UNDP on the basis of grant funding from the Global Environment Facility (GEF).
Its main goal is to assist in the sustainable use of natural resources in the biodiversityrich high mountain ecosystems of Uzbekistan. The project will be implemented in the highlands of the Western Tien Shan and Pamir-Alai in the administrative boundaries of the Tashkent, Kashkadarya and Surkhandarya regions. And its main object is the snow leopard which lives in these territories and is included in the list of endangered species.
The project is planned to be realized in 2017-2022, the total technical assistance budget is $ 6.5 million allocated by the GEF and UNDP.
It will also involve ministries and departments, local authorities and local governments, scientific and educational organizations, representatives of NGOs, as well as residents of rural areas of these three regions of the republic. The international partners are the secretariat of the Global Program for the conservation of the snow leopard and the protection of its ecosystems, development partner organizations and international environmental NGOs.
Listening to the reports and presentations, the participants of the event had an obvious question: what is the number of snow leopards in our country? It turned out that, despite the fact that this predator which is on the verge of extinction, has long been included in the international and domestic Red Books, no one can answer this topical question. According to indirect estimates, which perhaps, are far from reality, its number varies from 25 to 75 individuals.
The main reason for the decline in the number of this predatory cat in the world and in our republic is the degradation of the habitat as a result of intensive development of mountain areas and poaching both on the leopard itself and on animals that are its prey, primarily mountain ungulates. In addition, local residents kill these predators in revenge for attacking livestock.
The implementation of the project will provide accurate data on the number of snow leopards of the republic; reduce the impact of negative factors on their habitat. In particular, it is planned to carry out large-scale explanatory work on issues of biodiversity conservation among local residents of these regions of the republic. For example, the project plans to insure livestock from the attack of the snow leopard.
According to the fifth national report of the Republic of Uzbekistan on the protection of biodiversity, over the past 15 years, mountain landscapes of Uzbekistan have suffered from the continuing degradation of pastures, forests and mountain habitats.
Until the end of 2017, a National Environmental Action Program will be in force in the country. It defines national strategic priorities for the preservation, restoration and improvement of the quality of the environment, the enhancement of the sustainable use of natural resources, the integration of environmental protection and the sustainable use of natural resources in other sectors of the economy.
Thus, modern approaches to the protection and management of resources in key mountain regions important for globally significant biodiversity will make it possible to take one more step towards achieving sustainable development goals in rural areas of Uzbekistan.