Conservationists have pledged to begin coordinating efforts to save the snow leopard, the endangered cat that’s a mascot in some parts of Central Asia.
On October 22, participants at The Global Snow Leopard Conservation Forum, held in Kyrgyzstan’s capital, unveiled the Bishkek Declaration, a seven-year initiative that aims to coordinate conservation efforts in the twelve countries where these big mountain-dwelling felines are found.
Snow leopards, whose numbers are dwindling due to poaching and human encroachment on their habitats, live in the various mountain ranges jutting out from the Himalayas, such as the Tien Shan in Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, and the Pamirs in Tajikistan. There are believed to be somewhere between 4,500 and 7,500 left in the wild. Also known as “barys” in Kazakh, the cats loom large in Central Asia. Bishkek and Almaty, in Kazakhstan, both employ imagery of a snow leopard on their emblems. The snow leopard is the mascot of the upcoming Sochi 2014 Winter Olympics in Russia (they also live in the Altai Mountains in Siberia).
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