Snow leopards are among the most endangered big cats on earth. Only 4,000 to 6,400 animals now live in the wild - photo: Andy Fabian
Protecting snow leopards
Wild, beautiful and endangered
Snow leopards are among the most endangered big cats on earth. In Kyrgyzstan, where some 1,400 animals roamed the mountain ranges in the 1980s, only about 300 snow leopards are estimated to live in the country today. Although long forbidden by law, they are still ruthlessly hunted and their habitat continues to be encroached upon by humans. In 1990, NABU began its commitment to the protection of big cats in Kyrgyzstan.
Since 1999, the antipoacher unit “Gruppa Bars“ in Kyrgyzstan is taking action against poaching and illegal trade, and various environmental education programmes are contributing to raising awareness. “Gruppa Bars“ has already confiscated scores of snow leopard skins and bones and freed living snow leopards from foothold traps. Dozens of poachers have been arrested and convicted. In the patrol area of the “Gruppa Bars“, poaching has declined significantly since then. Together with the Kyrgyz government, NABU is also working on recording snow leopards nationwide and agreeing on transnational protective measures at the Snow Leopard Conference.
NABU has now extended its commitment to the protection of snow leopards to Tajikistan, Pakistan and Nepal, where the association is working with partner organisations on a community-based basis and is working to prevent human-animal conflicts. The goal is to improve the image of the snow leopards, for example through burglar-proof stables for domestic animal herds and an insurance system for cattle ranchers.
NABU commitment to the snow leopard at these levels
➣ In Kyrgyzstan a specially trained anti-poaching unit, the “Gruppa Bars”, puts a stop to poachers
➣ Injured animals are cared for in a rehabilitation centre, near the Kyrgyz city of Ananyevo on Lake Issyk Kul
➣ In the local communities environmental education ensures the necessary acceptance
➣ We help to improve the management of protected areas and pastures
➣ Monitoring work contributes to the study of snow leopards
The ranger group “Gruppa Bars“ on the road in the mountains. The antipoacher unit is taking action against poaching and illegal trade - photo: NABU/Klemens Karkow
The work of the “Gruppa Bars“ is proving successful: with their help, more than 70 skins and several hundred weapons and traps have been confiscated - photo: NABU
A traditional yurt next to the environmental education centre in Kyrgyzstan, which was opened in 2018 - photo: UINI/NABU
You can only protect what you know well. As part of its monitoring work, NABU employees setting up a photo trap in Kyrgyzstan - photo: Klemens Karkow- photo: Klemens Karkow
Since 2013, NABU has been helping to determine the size of the snow leopard population in Kyrgyzstan and to test the effectiveness of protection efforts - photo: NABU
The snow leopard has many fans in Kyrgyzstan: Flashmob in Bishkek on the International Snow Leopard Day 2018 - photo: NABU
NABU staff member Nurzat Iskakova. Through environmental education, we are doing educational work with cattle herders, pupils and the local population - photo: NABU
Participants of the second snow leopard summit which took place in Bishkek in 2017 - photo: NABU/Johanna Huth
In 2020, former Kyrgyz Ambassador Erines Otorbaev receives the Snow Leopard Award for his extraordinary contribution to the endangered big cat - photo: NABU/Marco Philippi