The snow leopard is a highly endangered and rare big cat that lives in the high mountains of Asia. Poaching, persecution from farmers, and the loss of habitat and wild prey due to human infringement have put the snow leopard on the brink of extinction. Exact numbers are unknown, but experts estimate that there may only be between 3,900 and 6,500 animals left in the wild.
Various conservation organizations, including the Snow Leopard Trust, WWF, NABU, and others, are working with local partners across the cat’s range to protect it.
These organizations have now joined forces this summer to launch a petition campaign for the snow leopard’s survival.
In the campaign, which is simply called #SaveSnowLeopards, wildlife supporters around the world are invited to sign a petition, urging leaders from snow leopard range countries to take immediate action for the cat.
Specific demands include a strategy to combat poaching and illegal trade of snow leopards and investments in sustainable rural development that help decrease poverty while respecting the needs of wildlife.
“Persecution from local herder communities might be the most pressing threat snow leopards face today”, says Michael Despines, the Snow Leopard Trust’s Executive Director. “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.”
In addition to retaliation killings, commercial poaching and trade continue to be major threats. These sorts of crimes must be addressed through cross-border collaboration and a joint prevention and law enforcement strategy.
Even if poaching were brought under control, the snow leopard would still face urgent threats, such as the loss of its habitat and wild prey. Most snow leopard range states are developing countries or emerging economies. Many of them are planning or undertaking large-scale infrastructure or mining projects to boost growth. Such projects can be extremely disruptive to fragile ecosystems. It’s critical for the snow leopard that they be well-planned to avoid damage.
Please join the campaign!