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Wednesday October 27, 2021

Organisations working to protect snow leopards facing financial constraints

September 19, 2021

Islamabad : The non-governmental organizations (NGOs) working to sensitize local communities about protecting snow leopards are facing financial problems due to disruption in the provision of funds after coronavirus outbreak in the world.

According to the details, there are a number of NGOs that had launched education and awareness programmes for communities in the high-altitude villages to sensitize them about protecting and conserving wildlife especially snow leopards.

But it appeared that financial support for these projects has been disrupted due to the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak in the donor countries, which may prove detrimental for the conservation campaign.

Around 8,000 snow leopards are believed to be left in the wild worldwide, and fewer than 400 of them are present in Pakistan, including the Gilgit-Baltistan region, where NGOs are working with local village populations to help protect and conserve the snow leopard.

The snow leopards find a home in the Hindu Kush and Karakoram mountains in Khyber- Pakhtunkhawa, Gilgit-Baltistan, and Azad Jammu and Kashmir.

The snow leopard is currently listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as ‘endangered’. Only a few hundred are believed to exist within Pakistan, and it was listed as ‘critically endangered’ in Pakistan in the 2003 IUCN Pakistan Red List.

The World Wildlife Fund in its recent report pointed out that ‘There is an urgent need to diversify the agenda for snow leopard research, with an enhanced focus on the spatial ecology of snow leopards in multiple-use landscapes, disease ecology, impacts of climate change and its population dynamics.”

It said equally urgent is the need to study the relationships between people, livestock, snow leopards and rangelands and the impacts of infrastructure development on snow leopard habitat.

Mansoor Alam, a conservationist, said Pakistan has an estimated 80,000 square kilometres of snow leopard habitat, or about 4.5 percent of this majestic animal’s global range.

“Snow leopard conservation has received increasing attention in the past two decades and global interest in protecting this unique high-mountain cat continues to rise. But like elsewhere, provision of funds is necessary to boost the efforts aiming at protecting snow leopard in Pakistan,” he said.