Barys and Dinamo Minsk Hockey Clubs play match in support of International Snow Leopard Day

October 27, 2023
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

A hockey match between Barys (Astana) and Dinamo Minsk (Minsk) clubs was played at Barys Arena Ice Palace in Astana dedicated to International Snow Leopard Day. As part of the event, the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) held an action, "Kar barysyn birge saktayyk!" (Let’s save the snow leopard together!), to raise awareness on preserving the snow leopard in Kazakhstan.

International Snow Leopard Day is celebrated annually on 23 October to bring public attention both to the importance of safeguarding a rare species as part of wildlife conservation and of ongoing efforts to protect it. The main threats to snow leopards are human impact to the environment, poaching and climate change.

Today the snow leopard has the status of a rare or endangered species and is included in the National Red Books of all 12 countries of its habitat. In Kazakhstan between 141-183 snow leopards remain with its habitat covering the mountain ecosystems of the Altai, Zhetysu Alatau, Saur and Tien Shan. 

Since 2018, the UNDP together with Ministry of Ecology and Natural Resources of Republic of Kazakhstan, with the financial support of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), have been implementing a project aimed at protecting and preserving the snow leopard in Kazakhstan. Within the framework of the UNDP-GEF project, actions centre on strengthening the capacity of specially protected natural areas, on raising environmental awareness among local communities and on implementing an environmental education programme in schools. 

The project pays special attention to monitoring the habitat and migration routes of the snow leopard and studying its food supply. A total 297 camera traps, SMART monitoring and a patrolling system have been introduced in 13 specially protected natural areas of Almaty, East Kazakhstan, Zhambyl, Zhetysu and Turkistan regions.

According to Katarzyna Wawiernia, UNDP Resident Representative in Kazakhstan, due to the joint efforts of the UNDP-GEF project, national partners and experts, close monitoring shows that the snow leopard population has grown in Kazakhstan in recent years.

"Kazakhstan is located on the periphery of the snow leopard habitat, so the issue of its study is particularly relevant. Due to environmental protection measures and the use of safe and modern methods, including IT technologies, a revival in the number of snow leopards in the country is occurring. Over the past 30 years, the population of the snow leopard in Kazakhstan has doubled, and new snow leopards have been recorded. For UNDP, the preservation of the snow leopard as a rare species is an important goal, part of preserving biodiversity and valuable ecosystems to achieve sustainable development of people and planet,"
said Katarzyna Wawiernia.
Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan

Since 2021, UNDP, together with its national partners and the Barys Hockey Club, have been implementing an initiative to tag snow leopards using the satellite telemetry method. To date, five snow leopards have been tagged with satellite collars at the Ile-Alatau National Park and Altyn Emel National Park. This helps both to obtain up-to-date data on the snow leopard’s migration routes and to study and protect it.

Photo: Barys Hockey Club (1,2,5), UNDP Kazakhstan (3,4)

According to the president of Barys Hockey Club, Boris Ivanishchev, the action "Kar barysyn birge saktayyk!" is a worthy tradition both for hockey players for thousands of the club’s fans.

"For six years Barys Hockey Club, together with UNDP, have been speaking about the importance of preserving the snow leopard in Kazakhstan. We believe that the more people are aware of the threats to this enigmatic creature, the more chances to protect it,"
said Boris Ivanishchev.

As part of the "Kar barysyn birge saktayyk!" campaign, a photo exhibition of the unique snow leopard was organized at the Barys Arena Ice Palace and contests and a photo zone for fans were organized.

Photo: UNDP Kazakhstan