Linking the health of the snow leopard population with the health of the environment, Nepal’s Prime Minister, Pushpa Kamal Dahal, announced a multi-country conservation agreement that sets aggressive and measurable goals for the protection of this endangered species. This landmark legislation, created under the auspices of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), includes all twelve of the countries that contain snow leopard ranges.
Nepal has been a forerunner in the snow leopard conservation effort. The country has already invested in satellite tracking of snow leopards. There has been a focused strategy of involving local communities in the conservation plan. Nepal has also created pioneering livestock insurance plans that mitigate lost income resulting from preservation activities.
The plan is estimated to cost just over 3 million dollars to execute. This investment will go toward further research and monitoring, the improvement of wildlife corridors and continued engagement of the communities that are most affected by the conservation efforts.
Key to the success of the plan is the recognition that climate change may substantially affect snow leopard habitat. Informed by complex computer modeling of various future climate scenarios, Nepal wants to ensure that snow leopards and their habitat will be protected no matter how the future unfolds.
The inclusive nature of the agreement reflects the growing understanding that all stakeholders need to be understood and respected if any given agreement is to succeed. Further refinement and discussion of the landmark conservation plan are scheduled for the Global Snow Leopard Summit that will take place in Kyrgyzstan on September 7 and 8, 2017.