If you have the fortune of coming across a Snow Leopard, the first thing you will notice is its unique smoky grey fur. This however, is its gift along with its curse. Its beautiful fur is the primary cause of their near extinction at the hands of man. The carnage for their fur first started when the Snow Leopard caught the attention of the Europeans in 1761 and through the years their population has plummeted worldwide.
These beautiful leopards are found in 12 countries in Central Asia, and their habitat includes some of the world’s highest mountain ranges. Found over much of high altitude Asia, including Mongolia, China through Russia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India and Nepal, these creatures have probably never been common, due to harsh environment factors. It is estimated that there are 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards living in the mountains of central Asia. These numbers may not be concrete as the rough estimates mentioned have been based on limited surveys that were done several decades ago.
However, being a Snow Leopard in today’s day and age is a curse of the worst kinds. Snow Leopards have suffered tremendously at the hands of man. The cats are threatened by livestock owners who kill them as predators while at the same time increasing their domestic stock which is not favourable to the cat’s natural prey. Also, to make things worse, new weather conditions in the Himalayas caused because of global warming are quite likely to encourage trees to grow in these areas, which means that snow leopards might soon have to either adapt to a whole new hunting ground, or face extinction.
Protected in India since 1952, hunting has nevertheless continued in northern India and the bordering Himalayan states because the fur is so valuable. In Mongolia, legal hunting is allowed for tourists, who pay thousands of dollars for the chance to shoot one of these rare cats. They are protected year round in Russia, but due to the economy, poaching is rising.
So, what can you do to save this exquisite creature? You can start by TAKING ACTION> A tiny step by you can go a long way for the snow leopard and prevent it from turning into a mountain legend. Start by supporting snow leopard conservation organizations. If you don’t have money for donations, ask if you can help in other ways by contributing your time or holding a fundraiser. You could also sign up to visit snow leopards in their natural habitat. While you aren’t likely to see the elusive cat, you can experience their mountain habitat and harsh living conditions.
The snow leopard is just another example of how the hunter becomes the hunted. So, why don’t you set an example by taking action to save this hunter?
Be a #SnowLeopardSaviour! Donate & help WWF-India out with camera traps to #SaveOurSnowLeopards – http://bit.ly/KGZNht