Snow leopard protection in the spotlight in Samarkand

by Hugues Thiebault

Snow Leopard
Courtesy Mountain Partnership

The fourteenth meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species of Wild Animals (CMS COP14) was hosted by the Government of Uzbekistan, in Samarkand, from February 12 to 17, 2024.

The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) was presented at a Steering Committee Meeting. The snow leopard is present in the mountains of twelve countries of Central and South Asia.

Due to the snow leopard’s reclusive nature, it is not known how many remain. But there are not enough, and populations are dwindling. Mountain ecosystems are under pressure from the triple planetary crisis: the crisis of climate changethe crisis of nature and biodiversity loss, and the crisis of pollution and waste. Habitats are shrinking. Climate change is reducing prey populations. Poaching and human-wildlife conflict have taken a toll.

GSLEP identified four goals:

  • Enhance transboundary cooperation.
    • The snow leopard doesn’t care where one country ends, and where another begins. Nations too must work across borders. Cross-border collaboration on infrastructure, for example, must go hand in hand with ecosystem restoration.
  • Scale up action through nature-positive investments.
    • The global community has yet to finance commitments to restore hundreds of millions of hectares of degraded land, including in mountain ecosystems. Public and private investment needs to step up. So, protecting what remains and restoring what has been degraded, are the key actions.
  • Ensure strong cooperation between Multilateral Environment Agreements.
    • The Rio Conventions on climate, biodiversity and land degradation, alongside many other agreements, provide frameworks to mitigate the triple planetary crisis. The second phase of Vanishing Treasures (a UN Environment programme aimed at protecting endangered mountain species), which began this year, takes this approach by supporting partner countries’ efforts under the Rio Conventions.
  • Invest in science and innovation.
    • The impacts of climate change and biodiversity loss on mountain communities and species are not fully understood. Science is the best guide for impactful investments in a common sustainable mountain future.

Mountain Wilderness fully supports the work of GSLEP to protect this emblematic animal of wild mountain areas.