Saving snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan

August 9, 2009

Dr. Tom McCarthy has worked with snow leopards for many years and is Director of Field programs with of the Snow Leopard Trust. In this video he talks about the decreasing numbers of snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan and the community based conservation programs the Trust is developing there. These programs help the Kyrgyz villagers who share snow leopard habitat to sell their beautiful rugs and handicrafts all over the world. With extra income they are able to commit to helping the snow leopards survive in their area. Have a look at this video and if you can support the worthwhile program by purchasing some of these lovely handicrafts. I bought a rug and some stunning table mats in deep reds and soft creams for friends and family for Christmas last year. Everyone loved them. Have a look at the crafts here.

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Kyrgyz anti-poaching unit gets tough

May 23, 2009
NABU Gruppa Bars antipoaching unit

NABU Gruppa Bars anti poaching unit. Photo by NABU.

The “Gruppa Bars”, an anti-poaching unit was set up to save snow leopards in the Kyrgyz Republic 10 years ago with the help of funding from the German conservation agency NABU.

Gruppa Bars means ‘snow leopard’ in Kyrgyz. The team has far-reaching powers and is equipped with weapons. They have the power to arrest suspects and seize live animals, skins, weapons and other evidence.

In the last decade the Gruppa Bars have captured 180 poachers and confiscated many snow leopard pelts as well as furs from other endangered animals. They’ve also confiscated and destroyed hundreds of traps. There’s no doubt this team has made a huge difference in saving snow leopards in the country.

Since the late 90’s living standards fell sharply after the dissolution of the Soviet states and the demand for snow leopard parts (for traditional medicine in China) and fur meant the cats in Kyrgyzstan have been hunted relentlessly.

Female Alcu injured by a trap. Now lives in a reserve. Photo by NABU.

Female Alcu injured by a trap. Now lives in a reserve. Photo by NABU.

A few years ago three live cats were saved after they’d been captured in brutal traps. All had parts of their paws removed because of the traps and can’t hunt successfully or feed themselves. But they’re now living protected in a large enclosure in a NABU supported wildlife reserve.