Snow Leopards, priority and CMS status
Snow leopards (Uncia uncia) are listed as Endangered C1 by the IUCN Cat Specialist Group
(http://www.iucnredlist.org/apps/redlist/details/22732/0); populations are suspected to have declined by at
least 20% over the past 16 years, and this decline is expected to continue without concerted effort. Snow
leopards are threatened by poaching, loss of prey base, and habitat loss. Snow leopards and their fragile
mountain habitats are also considered to be at particular risk from climate change.
The snow leopard has been listed under Appendix I of the CMS since COP1 in 1985, and elevated to requiring
Concerted Action in 2002 by Resolution 7.1 No CMS activities for snow leopards were reported by the Review
of Concerted Action Species in 2004.
A groundswell for transboundary cooperation in Central Asia
Transboundary cooperation has been gathering momentum in recent years, strengthened greatly by the MoU
on Bukhara Deer, which was signed by the range states, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan
in 2002. In 2006, the Pamir-Alai Transboundary Conservation Area was identified, which bring together
adjoining protected areas in Tajikistan and Kyrgyzstan to collaborate on issues of interest. In 2006, the first
meeting on the Pamir Peace Park initiative was convened, which brought together Tajikistan, China, Afghanistan and Pakistan to discuss closer collaboration in the southern Pamir region, a snow leopard hotspot.
This proposal has been further developed in late 2011, with several high-level meetings held in Dushanbe,
Tajikistan to move this concept forward, encouraging cross-border collaboration on environmental protection,
especially in relation to migratory species.
In 2012, at COP10 of the CMS, the Argali (Ovis ammon) was added to Appendix II, following a joint proposal by
Tajikistan and Kazakhstan, further demonstrating the leading role that Tajikistan is beginning to take in
Of particular relevance to snow leopard conservation in this region are the mountain ranges which form the
borders between neighbouring range states, the Wakhan range in the south, and the Pamir-Alai mountains in
the north, have snow leopard populations which migrate seasonally in response to prey species’ (including
FFI’s global work, and our focus on Central Asia
FFI is the world’s oldest international conservation organisation, founded in 1903. FFI conserves threatened
species & ecosystems worldwide, choosing solutions that are sustainable, based on sound science & take into
account human needs. FFI works primarily through partnerships with local organisations in developing
countries, where there are significant biodiversity and natural resources, but the means to conserve them is
FFI has always been a ground-breaker; it is renowned for its innovative, landmark programmes, many of which
have come to be regarded as classic examples of conservation practice. The translocation of the Arabian Oryx
in 1962, and its successful reintroduction ten years later, saved this species from extinction. The mountain
gorilla project launched in Rwanda in the 1970s is regarded as one of the most successful ventures of its kind.
FFI is the only international conservation organisation with a Eurasia Programme, and the only one with a
presence in more than one Central Asian state. FFI has been working in Tajikistan since 2006, and is the only
international conservation group with a presence in country. It has been officially registered as a
Representative Office since 2008.
We have achieved good progress in Tajikistan in recent years, including
- Development of a National Conservation Training Programme, which has training over 200 people from
across the country in a wide variety of topics, and left a legacy of skilled trainers with knowledge of
modern conservation practice.
- Working closely with the Forestry Agency to develop more sustainable natural resource management.
- Working with communities to encourage increased sustainability in harvesting of non-timber forest
- Support for Master’s students undertaking scientific research relevant for biodiversity conservation.
- Capacity building of future leaders through the Conservation Leadership Programme.
- Supporting and mentoring the Zorkul Nature Reserve to develop as a functional protected area, including
scientific research, reserve management, training for rangers and enforcement, awareness and profile
raising, and sustainable finances for the reserve.
- Development of the Snow Leopard Action Plan, and official adoption of this at national level.
- Surveys of threatened fruit-trees, and proactive conservation measures for threatened species of fruits,
including the Tajik Pear tree.
- Fuel-wood saving initiatives for communities living in a forest protected area.
FFI has worked closely with Panthera on a number of projects across the Central Asia region since their
inception in 2006, including in both Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan. A recent camera-trapping survey of snow leopards in Zorkul reserve, Tajikistan, which resulted in 252 photographs of 5 individual snow leopards, was a
joint activity between FFI and Panthera.
FFI has worked in Kyrgyzstan for around 15 years on a number of programmes, and has excellent links across
the country and with the government.
In Kyrgyzstan, we have:
- Facilitated the development of the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan in 1998.
- Implemented a highly successful small grants programme providing opportunities to some 192
Community Based Organisations in some 100 communtiies living in the Central Tien Shan Mountains to
develop alternative livelihoods in ways that are sympathetic and supportive with the conservation of
biodiversity and landscape.
- Facilitated the only Central Asia regional snow leopard planning workshop bringing together key players
from across the region to share knowledge and information on snow leopard conservation issues.
- Built the capacity of the Sarychat-Ertash Reserve team to deliver conservation including improved
capacity in anti-poaching, biodiversity and snow leopard surveying and monitoring, management
planning and community outreach.
- Expanded this protected area capacity-building work to the Naryn Reserve, another key snow leopard
stronghold in the Central Tien Shan Mountain range.
- In May 2012, initiated the development of the Kyrgyz National Snow Leopard Action Plan.
CMS Mandates which this project will contribute towards
This proposed project is directly relevant to a number of CMS Mandates:
CMS Capacity Building Strategy 2012–2014 (UNEP/CMS/Conf.9.30, adopted as Resolution 10.6). Actions
d) Afford high priority to capacity building
e) Provide financial contribution in particular to regional workshops
f) Encourage international research projects
CMS Recommendation 9.3 Tigers and Other Asian Big Cats:
1) urges parties and range states to enhance mutual transboundary cooperation for the conservation
of Asian Big Cats, including Snow Leopards
CMS Resolution 7.1 Concerted Actions for Appendix I species
Addition of the snow leopards to the list of Appendix I species requiring Concerted Action.
CMS Resolution 10.19 Migratory species conservation in the light of Climate Change
6) Improve resilience of migratory species at risk of climate change
8) Maintain networks to ensure resilience of migratory species
14) Pursue capacity building initiatives on the issue of climate change and migratory species
CMS Recommendation 8.23 Central Eurasian Aridland Mammals
1) Establishment of the Central Eurasian Aridland Concerted Action and associated Cooperative Action
4) Urges non-party states to support the Action
CMS Recommendation 9.1 Central Eurasian Aridland Mammals
1) Pursue both Concerted and Cooperative actions which cover all the threated migratory large
mammals of the entire Central Asian Region.
1) action planning and status reports for Uncia uncia (along with 3 other threatened species)
3) Encourages efforts to bring into the Convention Range States of Central Eurasian fauna that are not
yet Parties, and to liaise with other concerned Conventions to enhance synergies
The Snow Leopard Network, the over-arching body which coordinates snow leopard conservation globally,
held the International Conference on Range-wide Conservation Planning for Snow Leopards in 2008. The conference resolved, inter alia, to expedite the development of Snow Leopard Action Plans in all range states.
The current Chair of the Snow Leopard Network, Dr David Mallon, is a key collaborator in FFI’s work in the
region, and would be the main scientific advisor in this proposed work.
Other priority species expected to benefit from the project
A number of other priority species under the CMS are present in snow leopard habitat with Tajikistan, and
would be expected to benefit from better coordination of conservation, and increased capacity for
conservation management of migratory species:
Appendix I, and requiring Concerted Action
Ferruginous duck (Aythya nyroca)
Saker Falcon (Falco cherrug)
White-headed duck (Oxyura leucocephala )
Lesser kestrel (Falco naumanni)
Pallas's fish eagle (Haliaetus leucoryphus)
Eastern Imperial eagle (Aquila heliaca)
Argali (Ovis ammon)
Eurasian coot (Fulica atra)
Eurasian stone-curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Pallas's gull (Larus ichthyaetus)
Common tern (Sterna hirundo)
In addition, a MoU on the Bukhara deer (Cervus elaphus bactrianus) has been signed by Tajikistan along with
Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan.