3 March, 2021, Nur-Sultan A snow leopard family of three members have recently been captured on trap cameras on the territory of Merke Forestry in Zhambyl region.

The unique footage of the wild family was made possible thanks to 11 trap cameras provided to the Merke Department for Protection of Forests and Wildlife (the Department) within the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) initiative, funded by the Global Environment Facility (GEF). In total, UNDP handed over 294 trap cameras to 13 specially protected natural areas of Kazakhstan to improve monitoring and protection of wildlife.

For the first time snow leopard was captured in Zhambyl region in 2019. Since then, wild cats have been spotted at least 20 times. The presence of the predator demonstrates a good standing of the mountain ecosystem, availability of food reserves and effectiveness of nature protection measures, undertaken by the Department. These conditions are sufficient to justify the creation of a specially protected natural area in the region.

"The establishment of a specially protected area will help protect snow leopards and other red-listed species, contribute to eco-tourism development and widen employment opportunities for local communities," said Yakup Beris, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan.  

The business case to establish the specially protected area has been finalized and is currently being reviewd by relevant authorized bodies.

"Zhambyl region is located across several natural areas and is rich in flora and fauna. It is important to not only preserve population of snow leopards and other wild species, but also create all necessary conditions for their free reproduction”, said Aslan Orazbekov, Head of the Natural Resources and Environmental Control Department at the Zhambyl region Mayor’s Office.

To date, snow leopards are one of the rarest and least explored representatives of wild cats, living in 12 countries around the world. According to expert estimates, there are 130-150 snow leopards left in Kazakhstan. Due to its population decrease and threat of extinction, snow leopards have been included in Kazakhstan’s Red List.

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