Countries across the world on Monday, October 23, 2017 celebrated the International Snow Leopard Day, an annual holiday dedicated to saving one of the rarest wild cats on the planet.
The snow leopard, also known as the ounce, is a large cat that inhabits alpine and subalpine zones in the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. As of 2016, the size of the total wild population was estimated at between 4,000 and 8,000 individuals. However, this estimate has been disputed because snow leopards live in hard-to-reach places and lead a secretive way of life.
The snow leopard is listed as an endangered species on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species.
To commemorate the occasion, the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) in Nepal, considered a global leader in snow leopard conservation, organised an Inter School Design Challenge to educate young minds and provide them with an opportunity to level up their knowledge on the elusive cat through creative making.
The theme for the Inter School Design Challenge was “Keeping Them Alive”. The design challenge focused on solutions to key issues with regard to snow leopard conservation – climate change and habitat loss, human wildlife conflict and retaliatory killing, poaching, etc. The participants were provided with a box of supplies from which they unboxed their solution through creation of a simple creative idea. Their creations were judged on three categories and prizes given out to one in each.
International Snow Leopard Day was initiated by the countries that encompass the snow leopard’s range. They include Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
On October 23, 2013 they signed the Bishkek Declaration on the conservation of snow leopard at the First Global Snow Leopard Forum that took place in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
The first International Snow Leopard Day took place on October 23, 2014. Its main goal is to raise awareness of the importance of snow leopard conservation, consolidate effort of environmental organization in the countries of the snow leopard range, and emphasise the importance of taking measures to prevent poaching.
The 23rd of October is globally celebrated as the International Snow Leopard Day to raise awareness on the issues and challenges of this species.