The Czechs are starting a new project to save the snow leopard - one of the most endangered animal species

17.6.2014 - KAZAKHSTAN

CZECH REPUBLIC (Liberec) - KAZAKHSTAN (Almaty) - The last two hundred snow leopards (also known as irbis in Czech, Russian, and other languages) are facing the loss of their habitat. The most valuable parts of the national park near the capital, Almaty, are supposed privatized by developers into a megalomaniac tourist resort for ten thousand visitors a day. The wild forests, meadows, and rocky mountains are to be replaced with ski slopes, ski lifts, swimming pools, and dozens of buildings – the infrastructure for mass tourism. This would irrevocably destroy the natural environment of the snow leopard. Arnika in cooperation with Liberec Zoo and Kazakhstan organisations ask the public for help in saving one the world´s most endangered beasts of prey.

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“In the wilderness of Kazakhstan live the last two hundred snow leopards, and even those face a bleak future because of the masses of the megalomaniac project’s documentation. The loss of snow leopards’ natural habitat in the entirity of Kazakhstan is mainly dependent on whether the local authorities will respect international agreements signed by the state, i.e. rules of the International Union for Conservation of Nature or the Aarhus Convention. According to the Convention, the authorities must allow the public to take part in crucial decisions. Even the people of the Czech Republic may significantly aid in enforcing the rights of local inhabitants and thus help the preservation of one of the world´s most endangered beasts of prey,” states Martin Skalský from Arnika’s Center for Citizens’ Support initiative.

The home of Kazakhstan’s irbis is mainly the Ile-Alatau National Park located southern of city Almaty:

The snow leopard is the best acrobat and jumper amongst felines. It can leap as far as fifteen metres. Owing to a uniquely shaped nasal cavity not even icy air is a problem – their nasal passageway allows for the air to be pre-heated. The leopard uses its thick tail as a blanket to cover  its body to keep warm. Please, sign the international petition and help us save snow leopard's home.

The Czech non-governmental organisation joined up with both citizen initiatives in Kazakhstan and professional institutions such as Liberec Zoo. Liberec Zoo is one of the most successful institutions in breeding snow leopards in the Czech Republic and is involved in international projects for preservation of this magnificent animal. “Liberec Zoo has been breeding  the snow leopards since 1987, and in 1990 it was the first in former Czechoslovakia to raise a snow leopard cub. In 2009, we were the only Czech zoo to cooperate on the preservation of these animals in the wild in Mongolia through the Snow Leopard Trust. Snow leopards are without doubt among our most attractive and most sought-after animals,”describes the director of Liberec Zoo, David Nejedlo, about the involvement of the zoo in snow leopard preservation.

Arnika will be discussing the threats to snow leopards at the international conference in July which will be held in Maastricht in the Netherlands. Arnika will aid Kazakhstan non-governmental organisations in taking part in the decision-making processes, will help to complete the impact assessment of the planned tourist resort on the environment, collect signatures under the international petition, enforce considerate management of the national park, and care for the snow leopard itself to develop sustainable tourism.

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