Snow Leopard Ranger Program Expands to Mongolia and Pakistan

Snow Leopard Trust’s citizen-ranger program in Kyrgyzstan has been crucial in combating illegal wildlife trade. Building on this success, we are expanding the program to Mongolia and Pakistan to protect even more snow leopards across their vast habitat.

Snow Leopard Trust’s Citizen-Ranger Wildlife Protection Program, created in collaboration with the Snow Leopard Foundation in Kyrgyzstan and the Kyrgyz government, trains, celebrates and honors wildlife rangers who protect biodiversity across snow leopard habitat. After ten years of success and growth, we are proud to announce that we have expanded this program to Mongolia and Pakistan.

In March, on World Wildlife Day, the 10th annual ranger awards ceremony in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, celebrated 23 rangers and citizens for their unwavering dedication and bravery in disrupting poaching and illegal wildlife trade and apprehending suspects throughout the previous year.

On Earth Day, April 22, Mongolia held its first ceremony in Ulaanbaatar, where 19 rangers were awarded, including the first woman to receive recognition. Pakistan will host its first awards ceremony later this year. These ceremonies are an opportunity to bring attention to the challenging and often dangerous tasks these rangers face on the frontlines of conservation.

Inaugural Ranger Awards Ceremony in Mongolia

Over the past decade, over 100 rangers have received awards for their active service in fighting the illegal wildlife trade. These brave individuals receive recognition and a modest monetary prize for their exemplary efforts.

Under this program, Snow Leopard Trust and our partners, Snow Leopard Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation (Mongolia) and Snow Leopard Foundation (Pakistan), help better equip rangers with equipment and knowledge. They are trained in disrupting poaching and illegal wildlife trade, including crime scene investigation and emergency healthcare.

Our recent expansion is possible thanks to support from generous donors and grantors. A noteworthy aspect of this program included setting up a trust fund, where interest income allows Snow Leopard Trust to sustainably support ranger awards each year in perpetuity while the invested capital stays protected.

The Citizen-Ranger Wildlife Protection Program’s expansion to Mongolia and Pakistan is an exciting development that will provide more protection for snow leopards and their prey, like the culturally significant Markhor.

To ensure the long-term viability of the endeavor, new and increased training will be conducted for rangers across all three countries. Before the end of this year, 50 rangers will be trained in each country, with 5 “trained trainers” continuously imparting their knowledge to the recruits.

Illegal wildlife trade is driven by markets and operated by dangerous international networks that are often linked to the illicit trade in narcotics. On the ground, poverty and lack of opportunity can drive people towards poaching, which, ultimately, ends up supplying the larger illegal trade.

Along with expanding the ranger program to disrupt poaching, we are also working towards livelihood enhancement initiatives among local communities living in and around snow leopard habitats. Our goal is to help diversify income sources with snow-leopard-friendly and ecologically sustainable options to help foster coexistence with snow leopards. In Kyrgyzstan, eco-tourism initiatives allow visitors to experience the beauty of the snow leopard’s habitat while providing income for local communities. The sale of dairy products in Mongolia and beekeeping programs in Pakistan and Kyrgyzstan promote sustainable use of natural resources.

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The Citizen-Ranger Wildlife Protection Program is funded by the UK Government through the Illegal Wildlife Trade Challenge Fund. The Ranger Awards Ceremony this year in Kyrgyzstan was organized by the Snow Leopard Foundation in Kyrgyzstan, jointly with the support of Snow Leopard Trust (SLT), UKAID, Woodland Park Zoo, Toronto Zoo, KCS Pacific Foundation and Whitley Fund for Nature in cooperation with the Ministry of Natural Resources, Ecology and Technical Supervision of the Kyrgyz Republic.

In Mongolia, this program was organized by Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation with the support of Snow Leopard Trust in collaboration with the Ministry of Environment and Tourism and Mongolian Rangers Association.

Photo credits: Photo credits: SLF-Kyrgyzstan, SLCF-Mongolia, SLF-Pakistan


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