Gojal : Special Correspondent
To reaffirm the pledge that was made on 23 October 2013, by the governments of 12 range countries of snow leopard to conserve and protect the rare and elusive snow leopard under Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), through conservation, research and awareness education. The Snow Leopard Foundation (SLF) in collaboration with SKIDO and Parks and Wildlife Department Gilgit-Baltistan, organized an awareness gathering at D J High School, Khyber Valley, District Hunza, to educate the school children along the elders about the importance of snow leopard in the ecosystem around them. Col (r) Ghulam Karim chairman SKIDO was the chief guest of the event.
Muhammad Wali Khan, NRM Specialist at SLF shared the objectives of SLF and the conservation interventions SLF has taken in Khyber and other valleys for conservation of snow leopard, he praised the Khyber community for its commitment to protect snow leopard and other wildlife in the valley, and emphasized the young students to play their part in conservation of snow leopard and protection of environment in the changing climate as humans are being considered responsible for six mass extinction of natural resources of earth, due to their environment unfriendly behaviors.
Snow leopard is rarest and elusive big cat, whose numbers are decreasing at an alarming rate due to retaliatory killing by agro- pastoralists, habitat loss and climate change. The SLF has made a video documentary to project the importance of snow leopard in the ecosystem, threats by snow leopard and to snow leopard and the conservation measures that SLF is taking to protect both farmers and snow leopard, to impart a long-lasting impact on young minds this video documentary was screened.
Speaking at the event Col (r) Karim said that snow leopard is the pride and mean of recognition for the Gilgit-Baltistan as it occupies 60% in GB out of its total range in Pakistan and reiterated that his community and SKIDO in collaboration with SLF will protect and conserve snow leopard and other wildlife of the area, he also thanked SLF for organizing awareness event for young students.
Muhammad Younas, Senior Conservation Associated at SLF, briefed the student about the ways to keep the surrounding environment clean, he told the students that due to increasing number of tourists and businesses in the valley the use of polyethene bags is increased, hence causing pollution and deteriorating the aesthetic appeal of the valley, he emphasized the students to use clothe bags for buying goods and also convinced their parents to abandoned polythene bags.
After the screening of the documentary a painting competition was conducted the school children produced elegant paintings. Students of D J High School Khyber (Gulamdam, Muhammad Raza Baig and Zakia Batool) also spoke at the event and pledge to play their part for the conservation of snow leopard and other wildlife of the valley. The best three paintings were selected by the headmaster, parents’ chief guest and SLF team; Izhar Ali got first prize followed by Fariha Mehar and Yasir Karim respectively.
After the conclusion of formal proceedings of the event, the school children were provided with clothe bags to raised awareness to abandoned polythene bags, Miss. Rubina Bano Social Organizer at SLF, briefed the student about recyclable and non-recyclable waste, she took the students to valley streets to collect the waste around the houses. The participants and parents highly acknowledged SLF’s efforts and resolve to save snow leopard and other wildlife in Khyber Valley and appreciated the SLF for organizing the event in the valley.