March 1, 2024

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SNOW LEOPARD: NATIONAL SYMBOL OF KYRGYZSTAN AND ITS CONSERVATION SIGNIFICANCE

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TAG: GS 3: ECOLOGY AND ENVIRONMENT

THE CONTEXT: Kyrgyzstan, a Central Asian country, has designated the snow leopard as its national symbol, emphasizing its cultural significance, ecological role, and the importance of preserving its habitat.

EXPLANATION:

Cultural and Symbolic Importance:

  • In Kyrgyz culture, the snow leopard holds historical significance, symbolizing greatness, nobility, courage, bravery, and resilience.
  • It is tied to the story of Manas, a Kyrgyz folk hero, as depicted in the Epic of Manas.
  • Legend attributes the snow leopard as the totem animal of the great Manas, symbolizing harmony between humans and nature.
  • A globally acclaimed Kyrgyz writer portrayed the symbiotic relationship between humans and nature, embodied by the snow leopard, in his novel “When Mountains Fall.”

Presidential Decree and Objectives:

  • President of Kyrgyzstan signed a decree recognizing the snow leopard as the national symbol of Kyrgyzstan on December 30, 2023.
  • The decree emphasizes the snow leopard’s importance as a symbol of natural wealth, cultural prosperity, and as an indicator of ecosystem stability in the mountainous regions that cover 1/3 of the global territory.
  • It directs the Cabinet of Ministers to safeguard the snow leopard’s population and ecosystem, create a logo, define its usage at various levels, and establish its ideological content.

Conservation Efforts and Collaboration:

  • The decree calls for collaboration among ministries and agencies to promote snow leopard conservation, implement protective measures, attract green investments, and leverage the symbol for responsible tourism.
  • The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme (GSLEP), consisting of 12 snow leopard range countries, institutions, NGOs, scientists, and local communities, is actively involved in efforts to protect the species and its habitat.
  • The snow leopard’s significance extends beyond cultural symbolism.
  • It plays a crucial role in maintaining the fragile ecological balance of the High Asia region, known as the ‘Third Pole.’
  • High Asia, comprising various mountain ranges like the Altai, Tian Shan, Himalayas, and others, is a vital water source, supplying clean water to one-third of the world’s population.
  • Climate change impacts this region profoundly, with warming occurring at nearly twice the average rate in the Northern Hemisphere.

Global Conservation Initiatives:

Conclusion:

  • Kyrgyzstan’s recognition of the snow leopard as its national symbol reflects its commitment to preserving this enigmatic big cat and its fragile mountain ecosystem.
  • The efforts outlined in the presidential decree underscore the need for collaborative conservation actions to safeguard the snow leopard’s population and its critical habitat in High Asia.
  • This initiative aligns with global conservation endeavors aimed at protecting this iconic species and ensuring the ecological stability of the ‘Third Pole’ region.

SOURCE: https://www.downtoearth.org.in/news/wildlife-biodiversity/snow-leopard-enigmatic-big-cat-of-high-asia-now-national-symbol-of-kyrgyzstan-93664

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