United States partners with Kyrgyzstan to save the snow leopard

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BISHKEK (TCA) — For over 25 years, the United States has partnered with Kyrgyzstan on a diverse set of programs to ensure greater stability, prosperity, and security in the country, including programs for the protection of endangered species like the snow leopard, Kimberly Rosen, USAID Kyrgyz Republic Mission Director, said after Kyrgyzstan successfully hosted International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Forum held in Bishkek August 23-25. The twelve snow leopard range-countries reaffirmed their strong support for the conservation of snow leopards and high mountain ecosystems and signed the Bishkek Declaration 2017: Caring for Snow Leopards and Mountains – Our Ecological Future.

The U.S. Government, through the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), was one of the primary sponsors of this important Forum. USAID provided USD 150,000 for the organization and logistics of the 2017 Snow Leopard Forum, which enabled 36 delegates — government officials representing the nine snow leopard-range countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan) — to attend the Forum, Kimberly Rosen wrote in an article emailed by the US Embassy in Bishkek.

Since 2013, USAID has worked hand-in-hand with the Kyrgyz State Agency on Environmental Protection and Forestry along with other donors, civil society organizations, communities, scientists, and citizens. “Our partnership works to protect the snow leopard and its threatened mountain ecosystems, advancing regional cooperation among the countries that share the landscapes of this charismatic animal,” Rosen said.

“Given that these ecosystems are one of the most important sources of Asia’s water, their conservation and protection are paramount to the livelihoods of hundreds of millions of people throughout the region, including in the Kyrgyz Republic.

“Ever since the first Snow Leopard Forum in 2013, USAID has worked with the World Wildlife Fund to support the regional Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program. With our five-year, over USD 7 million project, Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountains, we have also supported pilots for innovative methods to protect snow leopards across six countries: Bhutan, India, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan.

“Through our work, we encourage environmentally friendly development to reduce the degradation of snow leopard habitats and enhance the resilience of both people and ecosystems. We seek to research and protect high mountain wildlife and glacial zones. This cannot be done without also connecting and integrating snow leopard conservation into local livelihoods, water and food security, and environmental adaptation,” Rosen said.

“We look forward to continuing our partnership with the Kyrgyz Republic and to building on the success of this international forum to enhance environmental conservation and sustainable development throughout the region,” the USAID Kyrgyz Republic Mission Director concluded.

Sergey Kwan

TCA