Gilgit - Baltistan

International Snow Leopard Day celebrated in Baltistan, Pakistan

Skardu: The Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO) organized International Snow Leopard day on November 3rd, 2015 in Basha Valley Shigar District of Gilgit Baltistan. The aim of the event was to share awareness among the communities and school children about wildlife, particularly snow leopards. BWCDO arranged a speech competition, quiz, poem and drawing competitions about wildlife and the environment for the different school students. The students presented a beautiful show on stage about illegal hunting in the area. The audience liked it very much.

The people of the remote areas of Shigar district are well aware of and appreciative of wildlife conservation compared to the past, and this is a positive reflection of the work done. The government will invest their efforts to provide education in such remote areas. We all need to work hard for the development of the area. I will put all my efforts to help the people of the remote areas. We will support the school teachers’ training for the quality of education in Basha Valley. I appreciate the educational efforts done by BWCDO and Iqra Fund which are marvelous; particularly the efforts done by Ghulam Muhammad, General Manager BWCDO who is doing very hard work to boost conservation and education for the poor people in the remote areas of Baltistan. Education is the basic right of every child, without education the society can’t be developed. “The parents should enroll their children in schools”, commented  Deputy Director Muhammad Ibrahim Tabassum, who was chief guest of the event.

Famous Poet and Scholar Professor Hashmat Kamal presides the event and shared his views. He said “ I am so impressed to see the performance of the students about their knowledge; the people and students are learning about wildlife and education. This shows the interest of the people of the area towards wildlife conservation. He appreciated BWCDO’s services for the protection of wildlife.

Sheikh Muhammad Ali, chairman of the Local Support Organizaiton (LSO), Yasir Abbas Central Karakorum National Park (CKNP), Abdurraqeeb, RFO Wildlife Department and community representatives delivered speeches about the importance of wildlife and the snow leopard. They said that the God created the beauty of the area and the beautiful wildlife are living there. The communities are getting benefits from BWCDO in the form of education and other incentives for which they are very grateful.

Ghulam Muhammad, General Manager , BWCDO welcomed the event and highlighted the steps taken by BWCDO for the conservation of snow leopards. He said that BWCDO-formerly known as Project Snow Leopard (PSL) is a registered organization working in Baltistan since 1999. BWCDO is the first organization in the world which started community-based livestock insurance scheme against snow leopard predation. The insurance scheme was introduced by BWCDO’s founder Dr. Shafqat Hussain.

He said that the BWCDO protects the snow leopard population through community involvement. He said that our approach is to alleviate hardships caused by snow leopards and provide economic and social benefits.

He discussed the facts and threats to snow leopards. The threats are similar to the threats facing the species in other countries. Illegal hunting of snow leopard prey species which reduces the numbers for snow leopards to feed on is a big challenge. Villagers also kill snow leopards in retaliation for the cats’ taking their domestic livestock. Poaching: Snow leopards sought for their beautiful fur; body parts are in demand for use in traditional Asian medicine; source of extra income; trapping in traditional methods; and poisoning in the carcasses of dead animals by farmers. Climate Change is also a big threat for the species.

He said that BWCDO provides the incentives  such as: livestock insurance/compensation against predation by snow leopards; construction of predator proof corrals to reduce incidences of surplus killing; camera trapping and genetic study to determine population status and distribution; livestock vaccination & disease control; and conservation awareness. He said that this event will generate a big impact. BWCDO is organizing such events since 2007 with the financial support from the Snow Leopard Conservancy.

At the end,  prizes were distributed to the students who won 1st, 2nd and 3rd positions.

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