Kathmandu, Nepal - As delegates from twelve snow leopard range countries meet in Kathmandu this week to strengthen their commitment to snow leopard conservation, the Government of Nepal has released a new plan that guides the government and partners’ efforts in snow leopard conservation for the next five years.
The Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan 2017-2021 sets the stage for Nepal to achieve its global commitments, especially its commitment to ensure 100 breeding snow leopards in three of its landscapes by 2020, made under the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), a combined effort of all twelve snow leopard range countries.
Speaking at the opening of the GSLEP steering committee meeting this morning, Prime Minister of Nepal, Pushpa Kamal Dahal welcomed delegates from all snow leopard range nations, and reiterated the importance of snow leopard and its habitat.
“Snow leopards are the guardians of the water towers and the indicator of the health of the ecosystem. Thus it is not just the responsibility of a handful of snow leopard range nations to protect the snow leopard habitat. It is the need of everyone who needs clean air and water,” he said.
The Prime Minister reiterated Nepal’s commitment to snow leopard conservation, pledging NRs. 50 million for the conservation of snow leopard in Nepal. He also launched the new National Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan for Nepal at the opening ceremony.
The new plan consolidates Nepal’s achievements under the National Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan, 2005-2015, and focuses on scaling up best practices from that period, with five broad objectives: continue research and monitoring using cutting-edge technology; improve habitat and corridors; mitigate conflict through community engagement; reduce wildlife crimes; and, strengthen trans-boundary coordination and cooperation.
Under the previous action plan, Nepal saw many successes in conservation, including satellite telemetry of snow leopards, innovative livestock insurance schemes, and increased participation of communities in research and conservation.
“The Snow Leopard Conservation Action Plan 2017-2021 will continue to provide crucial guidance to carry on the good work done by the country in the past decade, supported by its people and organizations like National Trust for Nature Conservation and WWF Nepal,” said Man Bahadur Khadka, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. The updated action plan has been prepared by a technical team formed by the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, with consultations at local to national levels, and interviews with key government officials, partner organizations and individual experts. WWF Nepal provided financial and technical support for the effort. The plan includes a budget of 34,65,00,000 NPR (3.15 million USD) for its implementation.
Earlier this week, the Government of Nepal also presented the status of its climate-integrated landscape management plan to secure snow leopard ecosystem in the Eastern Conservation Landscape*, discussing it with practitioners from the twelve snow leopard range nations. The landscape management plan is informed by geospatial, hydrological and climate models, and showing shifts in snow leopard habitats in various climate change scenarios.
“Together, these two plans will guide Nepal in its efforts to ensure that the snow leopard continues to thrive in the country, even in the face of complex challenges like climate change,” said Ghana Shyam Gurung, Senior Conservation Director for WWF Nepal. “We are honored to be key partners in this critical government effort and will continue our support to save this beautiful cat.”
The GSLEP steering committee meeting and landscape management planning workshops hosted by Nepal are both geared towards preparation for a Global Snow Leopard Summit of the twelve range nations, to be held in Kyrgyzstan in late 2017.
“We hope that the events in Kathmandu this week will help us identify the gaps and opportunities to achieve the GSLEP goals, and provide the momentum towards securing the future of snow leopard and its ecosystem, especially with the Global Snow Leopard Summit 2017 in sight,” said Koustubh Sharma, Coordinator of GSLEP.
*Development of the landscape management plan is supported by USAID, as part of the Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountains project.