The Noble Fight – Protecting Snow Leopards From Poachers

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A ranger scans Kyrgyzstan’s Sarychat Ertash Wildlife Reserve for illegal activity.
©Snow Leopard Trust partners with the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) to help fulfill their mission to conserve the majestic and rare snow leopard and its Central Asia mountain ecosystem through community-based conservation, rigorous science and education. 

Problem With Poachers

Snow leopards share habitat with herder communities. Due to this close association between people and nature, losses in the form of livestock depredation by snow leopards are pervasive. They can be devastating to herder families who rely on livestock for survival. Rural herders face annual livestock losses to snow leopard attacks that can reach as high as 12-13%, representing tremendous financial hardship that can provoke poaching and retaliatory killing.

You Making a Difference

YOUR donations supported SLT’s Kyrgyzstan Ranger Rewards program, created to help end the poaching of snow leopards. This program provides public recognition and financial awards for those rangers and private citizens who successfully apprehend poachers and help bring them to justice. Launched in 2014, the Rangers Rewards program has trained rangers from all 23 of Kyrgyzstan’s Nature Reserves and National Parks, as well as environmental agency personnel, to help reduce poaching in and around protected areas. They have partnered with INTERPOL, who has conducted several trainings on wildlife crime scene investigation.

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INTERPOL crime scene expert in action during anti-poaching training, Kyrgyzstan.
©Snow Leopard Trust

On March 2, 2018, nine rangers and wildlife law enforcement officials received monetary awards and certificates during a high-profile national ceremony in Bishkek for their successful anti-crime efforts. Kainazar Bekmuratov, a ranger from the Talas Nature Reserve in northwest Kyrgyzstan, was commended for his role in bringing a group of ibex poachers to justice. Kainazar recently told SLT his story:

A Dangerous Encounter

“One evening in winter, a local community member telephoned the ranger station and said that someone had shot an ibex inside the reserve. We decided to apprehend the poachers on their way out of the reserve, but when they approached the spot where we were waiting for them, they fled. The poachers left behind two backpacks full of ibex meat. We had a suspicion about the identity of the culprits, and with the help of local police were able to locate one of them at his house later the same night. He admitted to the crime and named his accomplices.”

All three poachers have since been sentenced to a fine of 57,000 som ($830) by the court, which is a sizeable amount in rural Kyrgyzstan.