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Nations and conservation groups seek plan to protect 'Ghost of the Himalayas'

Beijing, China (March 6, 2008) Snow leopards the worlds most elusive big cat roam the high mountains across 12 Asian nations, from Afghanistan to Uzbekistan. Representatives from those countries, along with leading big cat experts, are expected in Beijing from March 9 11 to frame a multinational conservation plan to save these highly endangered and rarely observed predators.

Hosted by the Chinese Institute of Zoology in partnership with Panthera Foundation, and co-sponsored by the Snow Leopard Trust, the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), and Snow Leopard Network, the 2008 International Snow Leopard Conference will bring together for the first time representatives from all snow leopard range nations: China, Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Uniquely, the snow leopard meeting comes with an underlying promise from Panthera to provide the funding and collaboration necessary to implement a sweeping conservation plan for the cats. With this conference, we commit to undertaking an unprecedented range-wide effort to conserve the snow leopard in partnership with range-state governments, non-governmental organizations, and our other partners, Panthera Executive Chairman Thomas Kaplan said.

During the session experts will share the latest snow leopard research and innovative conservation techniques, and discuss successful community-based initiatives. Speakers include Dr. George Schaller of WCS, who conducted seminal studies of snow leopards in the Himalayas more than 35 years ago, and took the first-ever photographs of wild snow leopards in 1971.

An estimated 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards live in the rugged mountaintops of central Asia. Population numbers are difficult to narrow down, due to the cats solitary and secretive nature and remote habitat.

Today, snow leopards are threatened by poaching for their pelts and body parts, loss of habitat, increased conflict with humans and livestock, and dwindling populations of the wild sheep and wild goats that are their main prey.


Contact: Stephen Sautner
Wildlife Conservation Society

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