Saving the snow leopard | Global Ideas | DW | 16.09.2014
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Global Ideas

Saving the snow leopard

In Kyrgyzstan, the snow leopard is often considered a mystical "ghost of the mountains." But, it faces several threats. Rangers from Germany’s NABU conservation group are working to ensure its survival.

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Project goal: Protecting the endangered snow leopard, setting up protected areas and supporting non-governmental organizations

Size: a 7,000-square-meter reserve in the Tian Shan mountains, a biodiversity hotspot. It’s home to 20,000 species which include several thousand plants and insect species, dozens of mammals and reptilian species and a few hundred bird species

Key species: the snow leopard as well the ibisbill, the Tian Shan brown bear, the lynx and the eagle owl

The huge Issyk Kul lake in Kyrgyzstan is a mystical place. The lake’s salt content arises from the tears of the snow leopard, according to local legend. The tragic myth is unfortunately relevant today since the number of wild snow leopards in the country has plummeted dramatically. Poachers target the animal for its white grey pelt which brings them vastly much more money than the average Kyrgyz yearly income. Germany’s Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union (NABU) is working to protect the big cats. With help from the government, the group is training rangers to track the poachers. In addition, a sanctuary for snow leopards is helping return the animals into the wild again.

A film by Joachim Eggers

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