#SaveSnowLeopards: International conservation groups launch a petition and campaign to save the endangered snow leopard ahead of an upcoming high-level summit.
New Delhi, India, 28 July 2017– The snow leopard is a highly threatened and rare big cat that lives in the high mountains of Asia. Poaching, the loss of habitat and wild prey due to human infringement, infrastructure development and conflict with herding communities have put the snow leopard on the brink of extinction. Exact numbers are unknown, but experts estimate that there may only be less than 4000 animals left in the wild.
Various conservation organizations, including the Snow Leopard Trust, WWF, NABU, Snow Leopard Conservancy, WCS and Panthera, are working with local partners across the cat’s range to protect it.These organizations have joined forces to launch a 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 requests include a strategy to combat poaching and illegal trade of snow leopards, ensuring infrastructure development is sustainable, and driving investments in sustainable rural development that help decrease poverty while respecting the needs of wildlife.
“Conflict with 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.”
“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,” said James Compton, TRAFFIC Senior Programme Director for Asia.
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 the fragile ecosystems that snow leopard’s call home. It’s critical for the snow leopard that they be well-planned to avoid damage”, says Rishi Kumar Sharma of WWF-India.