Snow leopard conservation project launched

CHITRAL: A project has been launched to achieve the survival and conservation of snow leopard and its prey species by reducing threats and applying sustainable land and forest management in critical habitats in northern Pakistan, including Chitral and Azad Kashmir.
Speaking at the launch ceremony of the project `Pakistan Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme` (PSLEP) here, speakers said loss of habitat and prey, retaliatory killing to save livestock, poaching and climate change, were the major threats leading to snow leopard`s extinction.
The project has been funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF) Trust Fund.
The speakers said the interventions of the project included adopting landscape level approach, protected area expansion and strengthening, participatory conservation in snow leopard model landscapes through sustainable community development and support for international cooperation and conservation and management actions informed by knowledge, awareness and monitoring and evaluation.
Regarding the projected outcomes of the project, theysaidthetargetareacov-ered critical snow leopard habitats across Himalaya, Karakoram, Pamir and Hindukush mountain ranges of northern Pakistan where three `model` snow leopard landscapes would be established.
At least 1.5 million hectares of critical snow leopard landscapes will be ef fectively managed under integrated participatory management landscape approaches, 4,000 households will directly benefit through resource management approaches and multiple use and sustainable landscape approaches will be institutionalised through national legislative, policy and institutional arrangements, they said.
The speakers said that Pakistan was amongst the 12 countries which supported the population of snow leopard and Chitral was known for being the major habitat of the wild cat.
The five-year project worth Rs650 million will be supervised by the federal ministry of climate change and implemented by Snow Leopard Foundation, while the project assurance is being provided by the UNDP.
Chief conservator of KP wildlife department Safdar Ali Shah and district naib nazim Maulana Abdul Shakoor were among those spoke on the occasion.–Dawn

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