Art Exhibition Held At Bhutan’s Royal Textile Academy To Commemorate International Leopard Day
The project hopes to transform the origami snow leopard into a symbol of optimism for the conservation of this beautiful cat species.
By Phurpa Lhamo | Kuensel
In commemoration of the International Snow Leopard Day, the Young Pandas Bhutan art exhibition opened at the Royal Textile Academy (RTA) on October 23. This event in Thimphu features 50 paintings, photographs and drawings as a tribute to this exotic creature.
To mark the day, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) collaborated with the Voluntary Artists’ Studio Thimphu (VAST) in Bhutan to create a life-sized snow leopard origami collage. Students from 10 schools contributed in making this snow leopard origami.
A press release from the WWF stated that the project’s inspiration came from an origami crane, which is the symbol of hope and healing during challenging times.
“Similarly, this project hopes to transform the origami snow leopard into a symbol of optimism for the conservation of this beautiful cat species.”
Another aim of the project was to raise awareness about snow leopard conservation among young Bhutanese through fun and engaging artworks.
Threats which snow leopards face
WWF-US Vice President, Roberto Troya said that today the population of snow leopards in the world stands between 4,000 and 6,000. He added that the number is generally decreasing due to the loss of habitat, climate change, human-wildlife conflict and poaching.
A nation-wide survey conducted between 2014 and 2016 shows that Bhutan has 96 snow leopards today. They are listed as a totally protected species in Schedule I of the Forest and Nature Conservation Act of Bhutan 1995.
Senior forestry officer at the Nature Conservation Division, Tshering Zam said that the Forest and Nature Conservation Rules and Regulations of Bhutan 2017 imposes a penalty of Nu 1 million for killing a snow leopard and Nu 300,000 for the illegal possession of snow leopard skin or bones.
Source: WWF Bhutan
In addition to the policies and activities in place to protect snow leopards in the country, the Department of Forest and Park Services (DoFPS) is also developing a five-year action plan.
What WWF is doing to protect snow leopards
The press release from WWF stated that at the first World Forum on the conservation of the snow leopard and its ecosystems held in Bishkek in 2013, two commitments were made:
- The Bishkek declaration: a commitment from the governments of 12 Asian countries (including Bhutan) towards conserving snow leopards and the fragile mountain ecosystem they inhabit and
- An unprecedented joint effort to save this unique animal through the works of The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme, (GSLEP).
Under this programme, snow leopard range countries have committed to securing 20 landscape across the cat’s range by 2020.
Today, the DoFPS has drafted the Climate-Integrated Landscape Conservation Plan for Snow Leopards that will mark a contribution from Bhutan to achieve the global initiative ‘conserve 20 snow leopard landscapes’ by 2020.
“Bhutan is one of the countries where we are putting what we call as project for permanence that is ‘Bhutan for life’. ‘Bhutan for life’ represents the desire of our organisation to preserve in this case, natural parks for future generations,” Roberto Troya said.
This article first appeared in Kuensel and has been edited for the Daily Bhutan.