The UNDP in Kazakhstan has joined efforts with the Barys hockey club to save the snow leopard.
In the run-up to the International Day of the Snow Leopard, which is marked on 23 October, the Barys hockey team devoted its game with Dinamo (Minsk) to celebrating the snow leopard day under the motto “Save the snow leopard” at the Barys Astana Ice Palace on 22 October 2018.
The United Nations Development Programme, the Kazakh Ministry Agriculture Ministry’s Forestry and Wildlife Committee and the Barys Hockey Team organised the event.
There were festivities and quizzes held before the start of the game, during the breaks and after the game devoted to raising awareness on the need to preserve the population of the endangered species.
The Barys hockey team (“barys” means snow leopard in the Kazakh language) is a popular hockey team in Kazakhstan, the symbol of which is the snow leopard. The team’s ice rink, which is also named Barys, provided spaces for the festivities and TV screens for broadcasting a video spot about the snow leopard pro bono. The matched kicked off after UN Resident Coordinator and UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan Mr. Norimasa Shimomura dropped the buck. After the match, two best players from each team were awarded UNDP prizes. Special visibility items such as claps were handed out to the visitors and fans. By the way, Barys beat Dinamo by a score of 3 to 1.
To celebrate the event there were invited the national partners such as the Kazakh Foreign Ministry, the Agriculture Ministry, and its Forestry and Wildlife Committee, international organizations, as well as the embassies of those countries where the snow leopard inhabits.
Also, children’s drawing contest “Let us save the snow leopard together!” started on 23 September. On 27 October, the contest 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.
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 City’s emblem. In Kazakhstan, snow leopards inhabit the Tien Shan, Zhetusu (Dzhungar), Alatau, Tarbagatay, Saur and Altay mountains.
According to experts’ estimates, there are 3000-7000 snow leopards in the world. In the 1980s, there were around 180-200 snow leopards in Kazakhstan, nowadays their number is only about 110-130 species.
The snow leopard is a majestic animal, the biggest representative of the wild cat family in Kazakhstan. 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.