Shigar: (PR) On October 27, 2017, Baltistan Wildlife Conservation and Development Organization (BWCDO), in collaboration with schools, the Education Department, Wildlife Department, Iqra Fund, AKRSP, CKNP and local communities, celebrated “International Snow Leopard Day” in Basha Valley, Shigar, Baltistan. The idea of celebrating Snow Leopard Day in Shigar, Baltistan was widely appreciated by local communities, youth and government officials, as over 1000 individuals participated in the various events organized for the cause.
Basha Valley Shigar, located in about hundred kilometers from Skardu town and in the Karakorum Mountains of Baltistan, is famous for its natural resources and also for the hot springs, glaciers, peaks and wildlife. BWCDO has been working on snow leopard conservation in collaboration with the Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) for the eleven years in Basha Valley. Each year, BWCDO organizes conservation awareness sessions for the school children and local communities. The purpose of these events is manly to raise awareness, build confidence of the students and involve local communities in snow leopard conservation.
During the event, eleven school students from Basha Valley, Shigar participated the competition of speech, poem and drawing. The competitions were held with an aim to highlight conservation of snow leopard and its importance.
The chief guest, Mr. Raja Abid Ali, Director, Central Karakuram National Park, in his address reiterated that the program, organized by BWCDO is for the conservation of Snow Leopard. He emphasized that snow leopard is one of the rare species that is found in our region and few other countries of the world. He further remarked that CKNP plans to continue its efforts for the conservation and rehabilitation of snow leopard in the region, and for this, it will engage schools for the establishment of youth environment clubs. The student members of these clubs will take on the agenda of snow leopard conservation in a more inclusive, local-led and sustainable manners. While referring to the recent UN Equator Prize, award to BWCDO, the Director, appreciated BWCDO’s approach of working with local communities at grass root level and with social mobilization, for creating more inclusive and sustainable change towards snow leopard conservation.
Speaking to the audience Mr. Sadaqat Hussain, Deputy RPM, AKRSP Baltistan Region, asserted his satisfaction on the efforts to snow leopard conversation in the region. He appreciated the BWCDO’s role in the area, especially the establishment of a strong community based system to improve quality education and natural resource management. While appreciating local communities for their active participation and interest and BWCDO for leading and facilitating the conversation work, he greatly valued the support of other international and national organization and donors, such as Snow Leopard Conservancy and Iqra Fund.
While talking to the audience, Chief Executive Officer, BWCDO, Mr. Ghulam Muhammad, thanked the community members, school children, VCC members, VEC members, all government departments, Iqra Fund, Wildlife Department, CKNP, AKRSP and Education Department for demonstrating their utmost solidarity for the cause. He said that BWCDO’s goal is to protect the snow leopard population, and to do this through: community involvement, by addressing the most pressing hardships caused by snow leopard, and by creating more inclusive economic and social development opportunities. BWCDO is organizing the awareness raising sessions and event from last six year and for the school children and community members in Basha Valley. He confirmed that more and more students and community members are now taking interest in conservation activities, as manifested by ever increasing participation in the event. Mr. Ghulam Muhammad viewed that the youth and local communities have huge potential and desire to conservation. The only support they need is of mobilizing and harnessing their efforts towards social, economic and environmental development. He said that the role of BWCDO and its partners and donors is that of a catalyst that channelizes the community strengthens towards a common cause of poverty alleviation and sustainable development in the region.
Mr. Muhammad shared that the day commemorate when the twelve snow leopard range countries endorsed the Bishkik Declaration during the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection in 2013. BWCDO has honor to celebrate this day with the school children and local communities who are the real stakeholders. . He requested the community towork sincerely and honestly for the conservation of snow leopard and other wildlife.
Speaking to the audience, Mr. Yasir Abbas (Ecologists, CKNP) emphasized that the communities need to become guardians of wildlife, especially snow leopard, ibex and woolly flying squirrel. He said that it’s not only BWCDO’s efforts that have been recognized by the United Nation for the conservation and development of the Region, but it is also an acknowledgment of efforts made by the local communities, youth, students and development organizations for the conservation. He said that we should be take pride for our achievements, and this should enhance our commitments and efforts for more progressive steps towards conservation and sustainable development.
The community representative Hassan Karimi, said that BWCDO is the organization whose support to the community is commendable. Due to BWCDO efforts, the community is getting awareness about wildlife. They strengthen their full support with BWCDO.
At the end the chief guest distributed the prizes to the students who got first, second and third positions.