As mentioned in our Kazakhstan Conservation page, the snow leopard is one of the rarest mammals of Kazakhstan. Since the breakup of the Soviet Union, people have resorted to poaching snow leopards and other wildlife as a way of earning income and putting food on the table. They need to understand the ecology of the mountains and appreciate the benefits of conservation and wildlife protection.
The Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Snow Leopard Fund Kazakhstan (SLF) are partners in launching community-based education programs for schools in and near snow leopard habitat.
SLF founders Oleg and Irina Loginov have a long experience in snow leopard education activities, beginning when they worked at the Almaty Zoo in 1993 and founded the Irbis Club (Irbis is the Russian word for snow leopard).
While working with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) on the project, Conservation and Sustainable Use of Biodiversity in the Kazakhstan Part of the Altai-Sayan Ecoregion, they developed environmental education programs in use today, including an education package for students in grades 5-9 entitled “Snow Leopard – a Symbol of Kazakhstan.” SLF provides the printed materials to biology teachers in East Kazakhstan.
In 2012 SLF developed contracts with the Department of Education of East Kazakhstan and schools in Ust Kamenogorsk, Katon-Karagay, Uryl, and Tekeli (see map). Meetings were held with local residents and talks were given at local schools about the role of snow leopards in mountain ecosystems, and the necessity for wildlife conservation.
Also in 2012, Irbis Club maintained a regular news column in a regional newspaper published in Ust Kamenogorsk and distributed throughout East Kazakhstan.
Irina Loginov is a writer of children’s stories, including Spirits of Sacred Mountain. This is a 30-page fairy tale illustrated by Russian artist Victor Pavlushin; it portrays snow leopard as the indicator of mountain ecosystem health. The story is being translated into the Tatar language, as the 2013 Students’ Olympic Games will be held in universities in Tatarstan, where the snow leopard is a national symbol and appears on a postage stamp. In 2012, Spirits of Sacred Mountain in a coloring book version was given as a prize to children from 160 cities in Kazakhstan and Russia (including the new cultural museum in Kosh-Agach, Altai Republic, Russia) who participated in a contest for drawing pictures of nature.
Two other books are in press:
- Russian language version of Irbis – the Snow Leopard, which was first published by UNDP in English. The book has 140 pages and more than 200 photographs and illustrations. It is a comprehensive overview of the status and conservation of snow leopards rangewide. This version will inform Russian readers across the Central Asian States.
- Snow Leopard – the Live Symbol of Kazakhstan. This Russian language book for children has 94 pages, describing Kazakhstan’s snow leopard distribution, number, biology, and symbolism.