Hundreds Of Snow Leopards Are Being Killed Every Year: Study

Posted: Oct 21 2016, 10:26pm CDT | by , Updated: Oct 21 2016, 10:31pm CDT, in News | Latest Science News

 
Hundreds of Snow Leopards are Being Killed Every Year: Study
Courtesy of WWF

Since 2008, an estimated 221 to 450 snow leopards are killed annually across their range in Asia’s high mountains

Humans continue to be a major threat for dwindling population of snow leopards.

A new report reveals that hundreds of snow leopards are killed every year. Since 2008 as many as 450 snow leopards are being killed annually and more than half (55 percent) of them are targeted by local farmers who shot the animal to protect their livestock. Only 21 percent of snow leopards are killed by poachers for illegal trade of pelts and products. Farmers have apparently pushed their livestock like sheep, goats and horses even further into snow leopard’s habitat and are emerging as a major threat for iconic large cat.

“Poaching and trade are obviously closely linked - unless derived from a captive animal, any Snow Leopard skin for sale in a market represents acts of both illegal trade and poaching, although potentially committed by different actors.” TRAFFIC Report says.

“More so than for any other big cat, people and their livestock range widely across Snow Leopard habitat; there are very few areas, legally protected or otherwise, in Snow Leopard range that are entirely free of livestock herds and herders.”

Snow leopards dwell in the mountainous regions of Central Asia. The animal with thick, furry coat is well adapted to some of the harshest conditions on Earth. But now only 4,000 to 7,000 of snow leopards are left in the wild. According to the report, over 90 percent of the reported snow leopard poaching occur in five range countries: China, Mongolia, Pakistan, India and Tajikistan.

“TRAFFIC's analysis confirms the worrying scale of illegal killing of snow leopards," said James Compton, senior program director with TRAFFIC. "This urgent wake-up call provides a blueprint for GSLEP action at national and transboundary levels to protect snow leopards from threats posed by poaching and trafficking.”

A combination of methods including seizure records, market surveys and expert interviews have been utilized to provide the first quantitative estimates of snow leopard poaching and trafficking since 2003. But researchers are surprised to find that snow leopards population is declining mainly due to ‘retaliation,’ not because of poaching. They believe more diverse strategies are required to deal with this problem.

“Even if there is reduced demand for snow leopard skins, the killing will continue unless we all work together to drastically reduce human-wildlife conflict and ensure that local communities can co-exist with snow leopards," said report co-author Rishi Sharma, World Wildlife Fund Snow Leopard Program leader. "Compensation schemes and innovative predator-proof corrals are making a difference but we urgently need to expand these to benefit communities—and snow leopards—across Asia's high mountains."

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Hira Bashir covers daily affairs around the world.

 

 

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