Sarymsakty ridge in Katon-Karagai National Park (photo: Oleg Loginov)
Partner: Snow Leopard Fund (SLF)
The snow leopard is one of the rarest mammals in Kazakhstan where the cats’ habitat is fragmented over a minimum area of 50,000 sq km. Snow leopard population groups have transboundary connections with The Altai Republic of Russia, Mongolia, China, and Kyrgyzstan. The Dzungarian Alatau has Kazakhstan’s greatest potential population, but specific studies have never been conducted in its 300,000 hectare Zhongar-Alatausky National Park. Katon-Karagai National Park, in East Kazakhstan, at more than 600,000 hectares, protects habitat of snow leopard and argali. Poaching has decreased around this park, but other parts of East Kazakhstan and adjacent areas of Almaty remain unprotected. Kazakhstan has no financing to create new protected areas.
Here, as elsewhere in post-Soviet Central Asia, people have endured hardships in their daily lives and need help in restoring respect for wildlife and reestablishing effective protection measures. The Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Snow Leopard Fund Kazakhstan (SLF) are partners in initiating community-based conservation action. SLF was established in 2009 to address the lack of government measures and NGO involvement in snow leopard conservation in Kazakhstan. SLF aims to restore the snow leopard as the symbol of Kazakhstan’s mountains and a symbol of national pride. SLF grew out of Club Irbis (Irbis means snow leopard in Russian), which was formed by Oleg and Irina Loginov in 1993.
Sergey Starikov in Katon-Karagai National Park (photo: Oleg Loginov)
Our initial target areas are Katon-Karagai and Zhongar-Alatausky National Parks. SLF founders successfully led the effort to create Katon Karagai NP, which is a transboundary protected area (with Russia). A survey on the Russian side recently revealed camera trap images of snow leopards. Zhongar-Alatausky National Park is on the border with China. SLF has active partners in both parks.
Teacher showing children snow leopard book in Ust Kamenogorsk (photo: Oleg Loginov)
Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, poaching of snow leopards and other wildlife has increased, as people had few ways to put food on the table.
The Conservancy is assisting SLF in launching community-based education programs to help local communities understand mountain ecology and appreciate the benefits of conservation and wildlife protection.
SLF founders Oleg and Irina Loginov have a long experience in snow leopard education activities, beginning when they worked at the Almaty Zoo in 1993 and founded the Club Irbis. While working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the project, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in the Kazakhstan Part of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, they developed environmental education programs in use today, including an education package for students in grades 5-9 entitled “Snow Leopard – a Symbol of Kazakhstan.” SLF provides the printed materials to biology teachers in East Kazakhstan.