Kazakh Activists Protest Ski Resort to be Built in Snow Leopard Habitat

Source: http://www.travelmole.com/news_feature.php?news_id=2005649&c=setreg&region=2
Author: Valere Tjolle

Mass mountain protest against mega ski resort in rare snow leopard territory – Letter sent to President signed by 7,000 campaigners gets snubbed, so “Flesh Mob” take to the snowy peaks to protest.

The central part of the National Park – Kok-Zhailyau gorge – is planned to become a place for a new huge ski resort and real estate development.

The National Park is above the Big Almaty Lake – home to a number of globally and locally endangered species which are listed in Kazakhstan’s  Red Book of endangered species.

Plans for the construction encompass a huge swathe of land up to the border of Kazakhstan and Kyrgyzstan, which is the prime habitat of the extremely rare snow leopard, Turkestan lynx (Lynx lynx isabellinus), Ibis bill (Ibidorhyncha struthersii), Tetraogallus himalayensis, Menzbier’s Marmot (Marmota menzbieri) and others.

Say the campaigners “The ski resort is only a disguise for the actual plan, which is to build private luxury houses, hotels and a golf-course in the very heart of the National Park. The Almaty Mayor’s Office and private business interests are lobbying the legislature to make amendments to laws and regulations so that they could not be accused in breaking the law and reach their goals”

“Our deep concern about this is that not only the integrity of the National Park will be destroyed but the ecology of the city of Almaty, adjacent to the National Park, will be dealt a deadly blow as well.”

“Currently Almaty is rated as number 4 in the list of the most polluted cities in the world by Newsweek. The city gets most of its fresh air and water from the “disputed” part of the National Park.”

“More then 7000 people signed an open letter to president Nazarbayev against this plan, but there has been no answer, and the city government continues to push the plans..”

In 2002 the Park was included into the tentative list of objects in Kazakhstan to be nominated for the status of UNESCO World Heritage (http://whc.unesco.org/en/tentativelists/1681/).

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