In 2008, Maya Erlenbaeva, cultural expert and manager of Ukok Nature Park, came to San Francisco on an exchange tour. She was inspired by what she learned about the Snow Leopard Conservancy’s activities that help children learn about snow leopards. Returning to her base at the large town of Kosh-Agach, she worked with teachers at the local school to create a special Snow Leopard Festival. With art contests, traditional dances, specially produced plays and other activities, the festival was highly successful.
In 2010 we joined the Worldwide Indigenous Science Network on a visit to southern Siberia. We wanted to find out if it is possible to interweave western science with the perspective of indigenous people, to build upon the good work being done, and help the Altai communities take action to save their sacred heritage. Following that visit, we formed a partnership with the Foundation for the Sustainable Development of Altai and WWF-Russia to expand Snow Leopard Day and bring conservation education to an even wider group of children and adults.
This program has the full support and sponsorship of the Ministry of Education and Youth Policy of the Altai Republic, the Republic’s Center for Additional Education of Children, and Nature Park “Quiet Zone Ukok”.
In mid-May the second annual Snow Leopard Day festivities were held in Kosh-Agach and Inegen village. Teams representing most of the eight local village schools took part in dance, poetry and play performances. Their paintings and sculptures were exhibited for some 150 attendees.
These festivals gave us great inspiration and joy and we understood that children are the best people to invest and work for conservation of rare animals and snow leopards!
Director, Foundation for sustainable development of Altai