UN Launches Program to Protect Vanishing Snow Leopards

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) has launched a monitoring project to protect the habitat of rare snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan.UNEP says the program, called Vanishing Treasures, has found 15 snow leopards in the mountains above the Kyrgyz capital, Bishkek. Wildlife scientists say climate change is driving farmers higher into the mountains to graze their livestock, which then fall prey to the big cats.Wildlife scientists with the program map livestock losses linked to snow leopards to identify hotspots, then pinpoint ways to address the problem in those areas. Solutions vary from location to location, and include offering livestock insurance plans or building predator-proof corrals to separate snow leopards and livestock.Emilbek Dzhaparov, a ranger in Kyrgyzstan’s Shamsher-Tuyuk reserve, has lost livestock to snow leopards. He said proper herding of livestock is key in preventing attacks by leopards.The program also investigates cases of potential transfer of diseases between wildlife and humans.As part of the U.N. observance Friday of World Environment Day, and to call attention to the project, UNEP released “camera trap” video footage of snow leopards and wild leopards from the region. 

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