A rare species of snow leopards is still being poached even though it is in a conservation program and the law forbids their being killed.
The approximated number of snow leopards still living across the central area of Asia is somewhere around 4,000, but reports have shown that almost, if not more than 450 members of the species have been killed between 2008 and the present day.
The estimated numbers were released in a recently published report from Traffic, a monitor network of the wildlife trade. Traffic is the collaboration between the World Wildlife Foundation and the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Their reports estimated that a number situated in-between 221 and 450 of snow leopards have been illegally killed ever since 2008. But the numbers could, unfortunately, be higher as the access to more remote areas makes it difficult to detect or register killings, and the trade of big cats and their products is hardtop monitor.
The species’ two main human killers are poachers and herders, each carrying their own agenda. The poachers usually kill the animals for profit, as the snow leopards’ claws, pelts, and teeth are quite valuable on the market, thanks in part to their rarity.
The herders usually kill leopards because the species preyed and fed on their animals and livestock. Some see the herders as the greatest threat to the animals, as not only do they kill the animals so as to revenge their lost goods, but if their pelts are in good condition, they will also sell the animal’s products.
Considering the number of remaining free specimens, and the high number of human killings, some voices predict a gloomy fate for the rare animals.
However, some have had reasons for optimism as the Kyrgyz conservation program is showing signs of progress.
Kyrgyzstan is the home of most of the remaining population of snow leopards and has been setting an example in terms of the species’ conservation. The local government, in collaboration with the Snow leopard Foundation, and the Snow Leopard Trust, has transformed former hunting grounds into the Shamshy wildlife sanctuary.
The Shamshy is still open to the interested herders, and conservationists are quite hopeful that the leopards will not attack the animals. Their hope is based on the fact that the big cats’ natural prey, the mountains goat, and the ibex, register a good population number.
Thanks to the new no hunting policy and the steady food source, the local authorities declared that the snow leopards population has seen an increase in numbers.
Image Source: Wikimedia