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WWF Mongolia Celebrates the Second Zero Poaching Year of the Snow leopard WWF-Mongolia today announced a second year in a row without a single snow leopard poaching incident thanks to enhanced law enforcement and public awareness programmes in the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion. “This is a turning point in the history of Mongolian snow leopard conservation and gives us hope for their future and for the future of the communities who have worked so hard to protect them,” said Dr. Ochirjav Munkhtogtokh, wildlife biologist of WWF-Mongolia’s Altai-Sayan Programme. “It is a testament to the combined efforts of all stakeholders – local and national governments, protected area managers, school children, herders and conservationists.”
“This is a turning point in the history of Mongolian snow leopard conservation and gives us hope for their future and for the future of the communities who have worked so hard to protect them,” said Dr. Ochirjav Munkhtogtokh, wildlife biologist of WWF-Mongolia’s Altai-Sayan Programme. “It is a testament to the combined efforts of all stakeholders – local and national governments, protected area managers, school children, herders and conservationists.”
Much of the zero-poaching achievement is rooted in multi-year advocacy interventions focused on increasing awareness and changing attitudes and behaviors. Children have played an important role in such efforts. After a successful anti-hunting trap campaign initiated by the children’s eco club in Mankhan soum, Khovd became the first province to ban the use of hunting traps. The Minister for Environment issued a directive to all provincial governors and protected area administrations to initiate a campaign to confiscate all hunting traps and organize advocacy interventions in local communities.
Local herders have also been a critical part of the success.
“Since 2013, I was involved in installing the camera traps with WWF in the mountains surrounding my homeland and collaring the snow leopards”, said Soronzonbold, the citizen-scientist and local herder in the Jargalantkhairkhan Mountain, Khovd province. “WWF helped me to understand the vital role of snow leopards in the high mountain ecosystem. Now, I became an active ambassador of endangered species and telling other herders about the values of these majestic predators. It is my proud duty to protect snow leopards and other endangered species from the poachers. Some herders ask how to become a citizen-scientist and get involved in wildlife conservation. I see changes in people’s attitudes.”
Mongolia is home to about 13-22 percent (500-1,000) of the estimated global snow leopard population in less than 10 percent of the total range of the species. It is threatened by poaching for the illegal wildlife trade, retaliatory killing for preying on livestock, loss of its prey species due to livestock overgrazing and illegal hunting (Argali and Ibex), and lack of awareness and support for conservation among local communities.
Twelve poaching cases of the snow leopard were registered in the region by law enforcement agencies between 2001 and 2013, underscoring the importance of consolidating efforts with law enforcement agencies at different levels. In early 2015, WWF signed an MoU with the Division to Combat the Environmental Crimes under the General Police Authority of Mongolia, resulting in significant progress in detecting poaching and illegal wildlife trade cases in the country.