Trainings of trainers in Batken province
Rahat Yusubalieva was a placement programme recipient on the Tien Shan snow leopard expedition with Biosphere Expeditions from 22 June – 4 July 2015. In December 2015 Rahat shared her knowledge and experience as part of the environmental training sessions in the rural schools of Kyrgyzstan’ s Batken province, the most south-west and remote part of the country bordering on Tajikistan.
On 16 and 23 December 2015 trainings of trainers (TOT) sessions were conducted in the villages of Andarak and Iskra in Batken province. Participants included school students of grades 7 to 10, as well as teachers of biology and geography. The sessions focused on ecosystem conservation, management of water, forest, land and pasture resources in relation to climate change impacts. Participants discussed how local ecosystems have changed in the last two decades and how people can conserve them. The goal of the TOT was to inform local educational institutions on the current state of the environment, methods of conservation, and for local community members to reflect on how they are influencing their own environment, and to integrate their own observations and new scientific knowledge into the school curriculum.
The TOT also covered the snow leopard, its habits, prey animals, threats to its survival, as well as the historical and cultural meaning of the snow leopard for the people of Kyrgyzstan. A documentary film “Irbis, legends of snow covered mountains” was shown and followed by a discussion. Participants were also informed on research findings by Biosphere Expeditions in West Karakol and Kyrgyzstan’s action plans for snow leopard conservation.
Residents of Andarak and Iskra villages depend on the resources of their mountain environment and Sarkent National Park, where people graze their animals and collect wood. Endangered species, which are under government protection also inhabit the park, including snow leopards. According to the director of Sarkent National Park, tracks of snow leopards are often seen in the park, as well as remains of mountain goats preyed on by snow leopards. However, due to the remoteness of the area and lack of finances, the park does not have equipment and camera traps to monitor them. Local people said that about a decade ago, a snow leopard’s pelt was found and the poachers were caught. Now hunting of mountain goats in the park is prohibited both for local and foreign hunters until 2017, when the moratorium is up for re-consideration.