Fight is On to Save the Last 4,000 Snow Leopards in the World
The snow leopard, an endangered species, is a big cat found in the mountains of Central Asia and South Asia. Ahead of an international conference on the snow leopard, several conservation organisations, including the Snow Leopard Trust and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), have launched a joint online campaign to save the big cat.
The conference titled ‘International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Forum’, will take place in the Central Asian country Kyrgyzstan’s capital Bishkek on 24-25 August, and will see in attendance, representatives from 12 countries including India, Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan and Mongolia. Speaking to The Quint, Rishi Kumar Sharma, Snow Leopard Coordinator, WWF-India said:
Wildlife conservationists across the world launched the #SaveSnowLeopards online petition a week ago, urging leaders from the 12 countries, which fall under the snow leopard’s habitat range, to take immediate action to save the cat.
Among their demands is a strategy to tackle poaching and illegal trade of snow leopards and ensuring that development projects, especially in rural areas, are sustainable, while not encroaching upon wildlife habitat.
Conflict with local herder communities might be the most pressing threat snow leopards face today. Many of these people live below poverty lines, and can ill afford to lose livestock to attacks from predators. In desperation, they sometimes retaliate against snow leopards. To break this vicious circle, we need to support these communities and help them coexist with the cat.Michael Despines, Executive Director, Snow Leopard Trust
According to TRAFFIC’s (a conservation programme) Senior Programme Director for Asia, James Compton:
TRAFFIC’s analysis found that a minimum of four snow leopards were poached every week since 2008; we strongly encourage all 12 range States to combat these unacceptably high levels of poaching and are ready to support these efforts by providing information to help target interventions to stop snow leopard poaching and trafficking.
Compton also feels that even if poaching were to be kept in check, the snow leopard would still face grave threats, such as the loss of its habitat.
Talking about the threat of development projects to the snow leopard, Rishi Kumar Sharma says:
Sharma adds, “such projects can be extremely disruptive to the fragile ecosystems that snow leopard’s call home. It’s critical for the snow leopard that they be well-planned to avoid damage.”
On 23 October every year, International Snow Leopard Day is observed.
(We all love to express ourselves, but how often do we do it in our mother tongue? Here's your chance! This Independence Day, khul ke bol with BOL – Love your Bhasha. Sing, write, perform, spew poetry – whatever you like – in your mother tongue. Send us your BOL at firstname.lastname@example.org or WhatsApp it to 9910181818.)
(Make sure you don't miss fresh news updates from us. Click here to stay updated )