ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Climate Change, Mushahid Ullah Khan, has been elected a chairman of the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) programme after representatives of 12 snow leopard range countries, where snow leopard is found, voted in favour of the minister. Kirghizstan was elected as co-chairman of the GSLEP.
According to a press statement issued here on Sunday, the voting for electing chairman of the GSLEP’s steering committee was held during the concluding session of the two-day first international steering committee meeting of the GSLEP programme.
The meeting took place in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan’s capital on March 19 and 20, and was attended by ministers, bureaucrats, and conservation organisations from 12 range countries including Nepal, Bhutan, India, China, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Russian federation, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia.
Khan represented Pakistan at the meeting. After assuming chairmanship of the steering committee of the GSLEP programme, Mushahid Ullah Khan thanked the delegates of participating countries for their confidence and entrusting him with the chairmanship of the steering committee. He told the delegates of the 12 snow leopard range countries that he would commit his time to come up to the expectations on the trust bestowed upon him.
He also reiterated the will of the present Pakistani government and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and said that Pakistan is seriously committed to the global efforts for protection and conservation of endangered snow leopard. There are only approx. 3,000 snow leopard left in the world and found only in the 12 range countries.
Earlier, while addressing steering committee meeting of the GSLEP here, the minister said that like other countries population of snow leopards has also declined rapidly in Pakistan because of varied reasons including illegal hunting and climate change.
Khan said, “Only more or less 3,000 snow leopards are alive today but the number is falling fast. Poaching, hunting and climate change are among the major threat they face, which are found only in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.”
In Pakistan, the population of snow leopards is between 100-200, he said. “Snow leopards are in trouble – and only humans can help by joining efforts of the respective governments aimed at controlling their illegal hunting and poaching at all levels,” the minister urged.
He hoped that joint efforts across countries to be pledged at the GSEP meeting in Bishkek will help protect snow leopards from extinction and yield a range of positive results, such as preserving biodiversity. Khan also added that a big part of the GSLEP strategy will focus on educating rural mountain and herder communities about the need to protect snow leopards, engaging them in conservation efforts, and helping them have sustainable livelihoods, to prevent an overlap in food sources.
Khan also reiterated Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s commitment for protection and conservation of snow leopard in this regard. As a first step this global snow leopard initiative seeks to identify 20 landscapes and secure them by the year 2020. Each of these areas should have adequate wild prey, hold at least 100 breeding snow leopards, and connect to other snow leopard populations.Bishkek meeting inspires the government to act energetically on Project Snow Leopard this year, the International Year of the Snow Leopard.
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