Did Mongolian government permit hunting snow leopards for research? Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Network take immediate action.
Below is a clipping from a March 2011 Mongolian Newsletter reporting the hunting permits allowed for the year, including four leopards for research.
The following is the text of a letter sent from the Snow Leopard Network asking the Mongolian government not to allow permits for hunting snow leopards.
On behalf of the Snow Leopard Network, a worldwide organization of over 400 individuals and institutions involved in snow leopard conservation, we write you to seek your support for ensuring the conservation of this highly endangered species.
The entire international community has been highly concerned by recent newspaper reports (attached here) that an official license to hunt four snow leopards has just been granted in Mongolia.
As you are aware, the snow leopard is threatened with extinction, and is categorized as Endangered in the IUCN’s Red List. The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) lists it in its SCHEDULE I, thereby prohibiting any international trade in snow leopards or its body parts.
With today’s technological and scientific development, killing wild species, especially endangered ones such as the snow leopard, is no longer considered necessary by the scientific community. There are numerous non-invasive, state of the art research techniques – for instance molecular genetics, GPS satellite collaring and camera trapping – available today which have completely taken away the need to kill individuals. In fact, even in the case of new species discoveries, the International Commission on Zoological Nomenclature now allows for new species to be scientifically described based on photographs, and specimen collection is no longer considered necessary.
We are therefore surprised and anguished that a Mongolian Newspaper has reported (please see attachment) that permission has been granted for killing four wild snow leopards in Mongolia. Your country is a world leader in snow leopard conservation. The species is afforded the highest level of protection under Mongolian Law. Mongolia has been the country with the best snow leopard research that has so far been undertaken. Collaborative research projects between MNET, other Mongolian institutions, universities and NGOs, and international partners is generating valuable insights into snow leopard ecology and behavior using GPS satellite collars, camera trapping and other advanced techniques. Multiple institutions in Mongolia have been working with local communities and the Government to save snow leopards.
Snow leopards are a Mongolian and international treasure, and we need to take all precautions to protect them, and to ensure that they do not become a commodity to be hunted or traded.
We also need to discourage any efforts to captively breed snow leopards for trade. Instead, we could encourage snow leopard focused low impact tourism. Such tourism is attracting numerous foreign tourists and bringing additional revenues to local communities in other parts of the world, such as Ladakh (India). The possibility of seeing a snow leopard in the wild, rather than in captivity, is attracting these tourists in large numbers, and this holds a lot of promise for promoting non-invasive snow leopard tourism in Mongolia.
In any case, the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), to which Mongolia is a signatory along with 174 other nations, prohibits any trade in Schedule I species such as the snow leopard.
We therefore respectfully request you ensure that permission to kill snow leopards is blocked, as any such effort is unnecessary, further compromises the status of an already endangered species, and will needlessly bring embarrassment and discredit to Mongolia’s international image as a leader in snow leopard conservation.
In case it is felt that this is a compelling case that would answer a particular research question we request that the permission be temporarily suspended and the research proposal be referred to a committee of Mongolian and international scientists for review and comment. The Snow Leopard Network itself has a highly respected proposal review committee comprising of top international snow leopard experts, including from Mongolia, and we would be happy to review the proposal and give our opinion to your esteemed office.
Thank you. The entire international community and media looks to your leadership to ensure that Mongolia remains a leader in snow leopard conservation and no snow leopards are allowed to be killed in the name of research. Since the people and the media are waiting to know further action, we hope and wish to give them positive news through your co-operation.
Charudutt Mishra, Ph.D.
Rodney Jackson, Ph.D.
Chair, Science Committee
Ashiq Ahmed Khan
Chair, Steering Committee