Back in 2013, a cub, only a few months old from Khunjerab Valley, was found by members of the community. Under the assumption she was abandoned, they removed the cub from the wild in order to give her a chance at survival. Soon after, the Gilgit-Baltistan government stepped in to offer support and ensure the cub was given adequate food and shelter.
For the last two years, she was housed in a 20 x 20 sq. ft. cage next to the Karakoram Highway, near the Khunjrab pass. With concerns of exposure to human activity and the outside elements, her housing was less than ideal. In order to provide a better future for this snow leopard, efforts are being made to construct a rehabilitation center for her and other snow leopards in need. Conservation organizations such as Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF), Parks and Wildlife Department-Gilgit-Baltistan (GBWD), US State Department’s Embassy in Islamabad, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW), Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Conservancy are all on board to realize the concept of this facility in the Naltar valley.
This Snow Leopard Rehabilitation Facility at Naltar, about 80 km from Gilgit city, would be established to provide safe custody, protection, care and training of orphaned, injured, rescued and captured snow leopard cubs and other young animals, ideally to be released back into the wild, if possible. The new 11,000 sq. ft. facility—the first of its kind in the region, will ensure safe custody of the captured snow leopard cub. The site of the rehabilitation facility is now finalized and ready for construction of three main components: a vast and specially designed enclosure, treatment center and an information center for public.
SLF is coordinating the design of the facility for human safety and cat health as well as public awareness and wildlife conservation education to connect the facility towards the country’s national strategy goals. GBWD and SLF have an understanding toward the execution of this project, with commitments from the Government to provide housing and care for the cat, refrain from breeding the cat (i.e. not to increase the captive population), improve enforcement of laws prohibiting the capture of wildlife, including ‘rescue’ situations, and produce positive outreach and education that support greater awareness for conservation and proper wildlife stewardship within Gilgit-Baltistan.
Federal Minister for Climate Change, Mushahidullah Khan has been elected Chairman of the Steering Committee of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) program. Representatives of 12 countries voted in his favor which includes Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. He ensured the commitment of the present Pakistani government regarding conservation of snow leopards in Pakistan and dedication to be part of the global efforts for protection and conservation of this endangered species.
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