New snow leopard habitats are under protection in Kyrgyzstan
Decision on the establisment of the state of nature park «Khan Tengri» in Ak-Suu district of Issyk-Kul oblast was signed by Prime Minister of the Republic of Kyrgyzstan Temir Sariev on 16 February. The area of 275 800 hectares will be now strictly protected.
The territory of the future Natural Park is one of the major habitats of the snow leopard in Kyrgyzstan. It is adjacent to the Sary-Ertash Reserve – one of the key centers of conservation of this unique species.
In recent years, thanks to the work of WWF and other international organizations, the number of snow leopards in the Sary-Ertash reserve has increased considerably. The genetical analysis of samples, collected by project and the staff of the reserve was conducted by the Institute of Ecology of the evolution of RAS. It showed that there were around 12-15 leopards on this territory 2011, while at least 23 individuals were identified in 2014.
«With the creation of the new park the major habitats of the snow leopard in the Central Tien Shan are protected,» said Olga Pereladova, head of the Central Asian program WWF Russia. «We also have been working with the human population that lives in the surrounding area, and it is motivated on the protection of leopards. All this allows us to hope for a sustainable increase of the snow leopard population in the Central Tien Shan.»
Nature park «Khan-Tengri» was created within the framework of a project funded by the Global Environment Facility and implemented by the United Nations Development Programme since 2013. Strict protection of the territory has been recommended by WWF in the framework of «ECONET» project, and further on WWF experts prepared all the basic documents for the establishment of the park and integrated the relevant sections of the GEF-UNDP project.
WWF is supporting biodiversity conservation in the Sary-Eertash reserve since 2009 with the support of WWF Netherlands, since 2013 – in the frame of USAID/WWF US project “Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountain Landscapes and Communities”. As one of the project components, WWF provides the reserve with technical support, such as uniform personnel, cameras, photo-traps, alternative sources of energy – wind-generators, and so on.