ISLAMABAD, June 1 (APP): Minister for Climate Change
Zahid Hamid on Wednesday underlined the need for
involving local community in conservation of snow
leopard – a rare species.

He expressed these views during a ceremony held to
commemorate the bestowal of the Whitey Award – the Green Oscar by the Royal Geographical Society on Muhammad Ali Nawaz for his efforts to protect the endangered snow leopard in Pakistan.

Whitley award was given to Ali Nawaz on April
27, 2016 in London in recognition of his efforts to
protect the endangered snow leopard in mountains of the
country’s northern parts.

The Princess Royal had presented him the 2016
Whitley Award, a prestigious international nature
conservation prize, at the Royal Geographical Society,
London, which was attended by over 550 guests including
Sir David Attenborough.

He said “The involvement of local community will
not only help generate income but beneficial for the
conservation of special and unique species.”

“The award is an important recognition of Pakistan’s efforts on the conservation front, and will catalyze local and national efforts to accelerate snow leopard conservation, and improve coordination among stakeholders across the large landscapes snow leopards need to survive,” the minister said.

The minister said the efforts of Ali Nawaz were exemplary to save the endangered species in Pakistan.

“Nawaz has made whole Pakistani nation proud by
bring this Green Oscar in Pakistani,” said Zahid Hamid.

He said “The majestic snow leopard is, no doubt,
is a symbol of pride for its range states, including

Zahid Hamid said Pakistan was blessed with varied
and interesting diversity of fauna and flora, starting
from mangrove forests along country’s coastline to
snowcapped mountains in north Pakistan was endowed with
a rich biodiversity.

“The habitat of snow leopard and other wildlife of
mountainous tracts of Himalayas, Karakorum and Hindukush
besides providing scenic and aesthetic value also
provide numerous ecosystem service,” he minister said.

The snow leopard is an iconic flagship species of
the mountains of central Asia.

It is estimated that about 200 snow leopards exist
in Pakistan’s north mountains including Hindukush,
Himalaya, Karakorum, Pamir itchiest Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,
Gilgit-Baltistan and Azad Jammu Kashmir.

The species is categorized endangered in the IUCN
Red list and listed in appendix-I of the convention on
international trade in endangered species.

The representatives of foreign embassies in Pakistan partner organizations and participants of 6th ECO Working Group Meeting on Environment also attend the event.

The minister also distributed mementos among the
participants of the ECO Working Group Meeting and the
award recipient Ali Nawaz.