A national festival is being held from 23 September till 23 October in Kazakhstan called “Support the snow leopard!” The festival’s goal is to raise public awareness on the need to preserve the population of the snow leopard.

The snow leopard, or the irbis, is a special animal for every citizen of Kazakhstan. It is a symbol of Kazakhstan, and is depicted on Almaty’s emblem. In Kazakhstan, snow leopards inhabit the Tien Shan, Zhetusu (Dzhungar) Alatau, Tarbagatay, Saur and Altay mountains.

The national festival “Support the snow leopard!” is held as part of the International Snow Leopard Day, which is marked on 23 October.

The festival’s organisers - the United Nations Development Programme and the Kazakh Agriculture Ministry’s Forestry and Wildlife Committee – invite all to take part in the festival events.

A children’s drawing contest “Let us save the snow leopard together!” started on 23 September. On 22 October, a match between the Barys (barys is snow leopard in Kazakh) hockey team and Dinamo (Minsk) will be devoted to the festival “Support the snow leopard!”, which will take place at the Barys Arena ice stadium.

On 27 October, the festival will culminate in Shymkent, where the winners of the children’s drawing contest will be awarded as well as a drawings exhibition will be held.

You will recall that according to experts’ estimates, there are 3000-7000 snow leopards with the world. In the 1980s, there were around 180-200 snow leopards in Kazakhstan, nowadays their number is about 110-130 species.

“Today, the current measures to preserve this species are not enough. Most of the people in Kazakhstan, unfortunately, do not know about the existence of snow leopards and reasons for their extinction. The situation around the snow leopard’s population reflects the general ‘health’ of ecosystems. This festival is one of the steps to raise public awareness on the issue,” said UNDP Biodiversity Project Manager Talgat Kerteshev.

In order to participate in the contest, children aged 7-10, 11-14 and 15-18 have to send their works on “Let us save the snow leopard together!” to the organising committee snowleopard_contest@mail.ru. Drawings (paintings, black-and-white art) depicting snow leopards and their ecosystem (the habitat) are accepted for the contests.

For more details please visit the UNDP in Kazakhstan website http://www.kz.undp.org/ and its page on Facebook.

The snow leopard is a majestic animal, the biggest representative of the cat family in our country. As a rare species, the snow leopard is included on the list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature, CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) and Kazakhstan’s Red Book.

In 2013 at the World Snow Leopard Forum in Bishkek the representatives of 12 countries – Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, on the territory of which this endangered species lives, decided to establish 23 October as the International Snow Leopard Day.

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