Snow leopards habitats at a serious risk as glaciers rapidly melting

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ISLAMABAD, Aug 27 (APP): Federal Minister for Climate Change,
Senator Mushahidullah Khan said Snow leopards habitats in Pakistan’s
north are at a serious risk of vanishing as glaciers are rapidly
melting because of global warming-induced climate change impacts.
“Without slowing down global warming to stablise glacial-melt
in 20 snow leopard range countries including Pakistan, habitats of
the snow leopard cannot be protected.,” the senator Mushahidullah
Khan was addresing at the two-day Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem
Protection (GSLEP) Forum, which concluded in Bishkek, capital city
of the Kyrgyz Republic, said a press release here on Sunday.
But, global efforts for tackling global warming have suffered
a serious blow with America’s pullout from the historic global
climate change accord, the climate change minister emphasised in his
address..
The agreement, reached at the 21st session of the Conference
of the Parties (COP 21) of the United Nations Framework Convention
on Climate Change, is an historic accord negotiated in December 2015
by 190 countries-the United States included-to limit global
temperature increases to no more than 2øC above preindustrial
levels.
The climate change minister Mushahidullah Khan warned that the
United States’ pullout from the Paris climate accord would adversely
affect an enhanced momentum for global climate action that to combat
global warming for protecting humans, their livelihoods and wildlife
from adverse fallouts of the climate change.
He recalled that the world plunged into a deep shock and anger
when American President Donald Trump this year in June announced his
decision to withdraw the United States from the historic Paris
agreement on climate change.
The climate change minister Mushahidullah Khan said, “The U.S.
administration’s such unpopular decision is one that has signaled to
the world that the U.S. government turns its back to the reality of
human-caused climate change and its fallouts across all sectors of
human activity and global biodiversity and fails to recognize the
urgency with which we must act unitedly to fight this common global
survival threat.
However, the historic major polluter America’s withdrawal must
have also enraged the snow leopard and its saviours worldwide, the
minister griped.
For, snow leopard today was fighting for his survival while
glaciers that provide with habitat for him are vanishing because of
climate change, Mushahidullah Khan argued.
He said, “With rapidly receding glaciers due to global
warming, the habitat of the snow leopard is fast vanishing, posing
a grave danger to the very survival of this snow leopard, which is
reflection of God’s beauty in the mountains.”
“Thus, the world must act to protect its habitat from the
global warming -induced climate change impacts.” the climate change
minister urged the participants of the two-day GSLEP Forum.
The Forum brought together nearly 20,000 delegates including
heads and representatives of the governments of the 12 snow leopard
range countries including Pakistan as well as of other interested
nations with leaders from international institutions, donor
agencies, conservation organisations, and scientific institutions.

The climate change minister, Senator Mushahidullah Khan led
Pakistan’s four member delegation to the GSLEP Forum and highlighted
the country’s conservation and protection measures being taken for
the snow leopard and its habitats.

The global event aimed to further strengthen the range
countries’ ongoing effort to protect the snow leopard, and to
galvanize international support for their ambitious plan of securing
20 snow leopard landscapes by the year 2020.
The GSLEP programme is a joint initiative by all 12 snow
leopard range countries and initiated by President Atambaev of the
Kyrgyz Republic. Its aim is to ensure the long-term survival of this
endangered cat.
The minister told the participating delegates from 12 snow
leopard countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India,
JKazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Tajikistan and Uzbejkistan
that the GSLEP summit is great opportunity to tap for the protection
of snow leopard and its habitat.
“Now, all of us have a historic opportunity to put work on
snow leopard conservation in the vanguard of political and economic
decisions”, Mushahidullah Khan told delegates of the GSLEP member
countries at the Forum.
Talking about snow leopard conservation efforts in Pakistan,
the climate change minister said that the snow leopard conservation
efforts in Pakistan dated back to the early 70’s with the government
endorsement of provincial wildlife acts.
The efforts further picked up in 1990’s when the Snow Leopard
Trust initiated its interventions in the country, he added.
He also recalled that that Pakistani government also supported
and endorsed the Snow Leopard Conservation Strategic Plan in 2007 as
part of the implementation of the Snow Leopard Survival Strategy.
Since then many wildlife conservation organisations in
Pakistan have been implementing the snow leopard conservation action
plans, respectively, in the country by working with the local
communities and government departments, the climate change minister
added.
He also highlighted that an amount of 4.5 million dollars have
been approved for a multi-year snow leopard protection and the
programme would be launched next year in Gilgit-Baltistan region.
The climate change minister also told the participants of
GSLEP Forum that the Landscape Management Plan of the Karakoram-
Pamir Landscape, which is one of the largest snow leopard landscapes
in the world, is in its final stage and would be endorsed after
review by the GSLEP Secretariat in a few week’s time.
As a part of efforts to mitigate human-snow leopard conflict,
several measures have been undertaken in the country, such as:
construction of predator-proof corrals and compensation programmes
in the form of livestock insurance schemes initiated by the
provincial governments in collaboration non-governmental
organisations, Mushahidullah Khan added.
Snow leopard range in Pakistan spreads across 80,000 square
kilometers in the Hindu Kush, Pamir, Karakoram and Himalayan
Mountain Ranges of northern Pakistan. An estimated 200-420 snow
leopards exist in Pakistan’s northern mountains across Khyber
Pakhtunkhwa (KPK), Gilgit-Baltistan (GB), and Azad Jammu and Kashmir
(AJK).