Снежный барс возвращается

The Snow Leopard Returns

29 April 2023

In December of last year, Kyrgyzstan's efforts to conserve and protect mountain landscapes were recognized with the Global Award for Ecosystem Restoration at the UN Biodiversity Conference (CBD COP 15) held in Montreal, Canada.

Our country presented the initiative of the community micro-reserve "Baibosun," which was named among the best flagships for "restoration and reconciliation with nature." The work carried out by the rangers of Baibosun, in collaboration with local communities and the PF CAMP Alatoo, to preserve the habitat of the snow leopard and other wildlife, was captured in a video supported by the UN Environment Programme.

Through the story of Baibosun, the video highlights the resolution of conflicts between humans and wildlife caused by the shared use of natural resources. Climate change accelerates glacier melting, intensifies pasture degradation, and forces wild animals in the micro-reserve to seek higher altitudes. In search of green and lush grazing areas, people also drive their livestock to the highlands. The presence of humans disturbs the wildlife, shrinking their habitat and forcing them to migrate, leaving the snow leopard without its essential prey. Without its main food sources such as ibex and argali, the predator cannot survive.

One of the protagonists in the video, Baatyrbek Akmataev, a ranger from Baibosun, shared observations that camera traps recorded only 1-2 snow leopards in the reserve for several years. The statistics indicated that nature is losing its balance due to the absence of the snow leopard, a key indicator of ecosystem health, which relies on the quality of the pastures. This also affects local herders. Over the past three years, with the support of the PF CAMP Alatoo, shepherds have been working on improving the pastures and assessing the negative consequences of overgrazing. This enabled them to plan optimal pasture rotations, resulting in the recovery of heavily grazed areas. The revitalized pastures inspire hope for the increase in the population of ibex.

The authors concluded that agriculture methods compatible with biodiversity interests provide local communities with more land resources and opportunities to reduce losses while strengthening their means of existence.

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