The Plan To Save The Cats

Saving the endangered snow leopard will require a great, collective effort by range country governments, snow leopard conservation experts and – perhaps most of all – local as well as global communities. At the Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum in Bishkek (Kyrgyzstan), range country delegations agreed on an ambitious plan that will be the basis of this joint conservation effort for years to come. Now, this plan, the “Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Plan (GSLEP)” is available to the public.

snow leopard in Mongolia
Lasya, a cat we’ve been tracking in Mongolia

The “Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Plan (GSLEP)” outlines the major threats that put the snow leopard under pressure across its range. It then specifies how these threats can be addressed, identifies priorities and sets concrete actions each range country can implement.

A centerpiece of the plan is to identify and secure 20 snow leopard landscapes across the cat’s range by 2020, or “secure 20 by 2020.” Each landscape would contain at least 100 breeding age snow leopards–that’s 2,000 cats, or up to half of the wild population, over the next seven years. Each landscape would also support adequate and secure prey populations; and have connectivity to other snow leopard landscapes. Key habitats would be protected by rendering them ‘no go’ areas for damaging land uses such as mining.

In the GSLEP, the importance of community involvement as a key principle in snow leopard conservation has been explicitly acknowledged by all range country governments for the first time. We have helped identify crosscutting best practices that can be scaled up across the cat’s range to address threats. Many of those best practices focus on involving local communities as stewards of biodiversity and champions of conservation. They include livestock insurance and vaccination programs as well as corral improvements, and local people’s involvement in monitoring and habitat protection–all things the Trust has been focusing on for years.

How much is this going to cost?

Conservation on the global scale comes at a significant cost: the range countries estimate that all the measures outlined in the GSLEP will cost about $190 million between now and 2020. A large number, no doubt, but one that is dwarfed by the value of all the services healthy mountain ecosystems render to billions of people across Asia and the world. For instance, more than a quarter of the planet’s population relies on the mountains of Central Asia for their drinking water – a resource nobody can put a price tag on.

Where will this money come from?

Some of the cost will be covered by range countries, intergovernmental and multilateral organizations like the World Bank, Global Environment Facility or UN Development Program. Some will also have to come from NGOs like the Trust – and ultimately, from the thousands of individual supporters out there who care about snow leopards, their ecosystem and the people they share it with.

You can download the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem & Protection Plan here as a PDF.