Photography by Tashi R. Ghale

Dr. Rodney Jackson & Maria Azhunova represent
Snow Leopard Conservancy & Land of Snow Leopard Network at the 


Since 1986, the snow leopard, Panthera uncia, has been listed in the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) Appendix I, requiring strict protection of this species from range states.

As a species that requires very large home ranges, “designated protected areas . . . are often too small . . . to (provide for) the conservation of viable populations. Thus, concerted landscape-wide measures are necessary to ensure the survival of the species’ populations.” According to CMS, “up to one-third of the known snow leopard population might have a range located less than 50 – 100 km from the international borders of (its) 12 range countries. Therefore, strengthening of transboundary collaboration is particularly important for the conservation of the snow leopard.”

CMS is “the only global convention specializing in the conservation of migratory species, their habitats and migration routes.” It works with a number of other international organizations, and in the case of the snow leopard, the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP). Terrestrial species like the snow leopard face a variety of threats, including “habitat loss and degradation, climate change,” poaching and illegal trade, “and the presence of linear infrastructure, such as fences, highways, railways, and canals, which often act as barriers to the natural movements of wild animals.”

The 14th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP 14) to the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species was held February 14-17, 2024, in Samarkand, Uzbekistan. Topics concerning terrestrial species, including “linear infrastructure development, the establishment of trans-frontier conservation areas, and measures to combat the illegal and unsustainable taking of species,” were discussed.

Tanya Rosen and Dr. Rodney Jackson at the COP 14

Photo: T. Rosen

A topic being addressed for the first time and of utmost concern for snow leopards and their prey species was pastoralism where domestic herds share grasslands and rangelands with migratory animals. As stated by the CMS, “Excessive pastoralism can negatively affect migratory species by surpassing the ecosystems’ carrying capacities.” A working group was, therefore, established to “assess the impact of transhumance on biodiversity, well-being, and the risk of zoonotic disease emergence at the human/wildlife/livestock interface.”

SLC Founder and President Dr. Rodney Jackson spoke at the COP14 regarding the importance of community-based and community led conservation, highlighting the works of the Land of Snow Leopard (LOSL) Network.

Listen to his speech by clicking on the photo above. (6 min. clip)

Also addressing the COP14 was LOSL Director Maria Azhunova. Director Azhunova noted in her remarks that “there remains a significant gap in its implementation concerning the recognition and inclusion of Indigenous Peoples as equal partners (in conservation).” She spoke to the importance of “intergenerational transmission of Indigenous knowledge, languages, and cultural practices that have helped safeguard migratory species and their habitats over millennia.” She further stated that “the future of these species depends on the resilience of Indigenous Peoples, their cultures, and the lands they have governed since time immemorial. ‘Nature knows no boundaries.’ Our fates are intertwined.”

Listen to Maria’s statement by clicking on the photo above. (1.5 min clip)

Both Dr. Jackson and Maria Azhunova were in attendance the following day where Maria put forth a proposed change to the preamble of a CMOS document to state the following:

Recognizing the intrinsic spiritual reverence for nature and profound spiritual values inherent in traditional knowledge of lands, natural resources, and the environment held by Indigenous Peoples and local communities, as well as the vital role these communities can play in effective wildlife conservation.

Listen to Maria’s statement by clicking on the photo above. (0.75 min clip)

To learn more about the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species, visit their website. And click here to obtain information on how CMOS is working to conserve the snow leopard.

Note: CMOS refers to the snow leopard as Uncia uncia, which was the species taxonomic designation prior to being recognized as a member of the Panthera genus.