ISLAMABAD: Climate Change Minister, Senator Mushahidullah Khan, said that 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.,” he said this while addressing a two-day global snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Forum, which concluded in Bishkek, capital city of the Kyrgyz Republic.

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 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”, he added. 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.” “The world must act to protect its habitat from the global warming –induced climate change impacts.” he urged.

The global event was aimed at 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 minister told that 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”, he said.

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.

He told thatthe 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).