About Snow leopard

Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP)

  • It is a world first joint initiative that aims to conserve the endangered snow leopard.
  • It is a wide range effort that unites country governments, nongovernmental and inter-governmental organisations, local communities, and the private sector around a shared vision to conserve snow leopards and their valuable high-mountain ecosystems.
  • The goal of the GSLEP is for the 12 snow leopard range countries, with support from conservation agencies, NGO’s and others to work together to identify and secure at least 20 healthy populations of snow leopards across the cat’s range by 2020.

 

About Snow leopard

Habitat 

  • They live in the mountains of Central Asia.
  • Their habitat extends through twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

 

IUCN status

  • Recently, IUCN has changed the status of Snow leopard from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’.

 

Threats

  1. Poaching: They have long been killed for their beautiful fur, but their bones and other body parts are also used in Traditional Asian Medicine.
  2. Conflict with communities: Herders sometimes kill snow leopards in retaliation for attacking their livestock.
  3. The decline in the leopard’s natural prey: Due to hunting, competition from increasing livestock herds, and habitat loss – is forcing them to rely more on livestock for food and increasing the risk of retaliatory killings.
  4. Shrinking habitat: They need vast areas to thrive, but expanding human and livestock populations are rapidly encroaching on their habitat. New roads and mines are also fragmenting their remaining range.
  5. Changing climate: All these threats will be exacerbated by the impact of climate change on the fragile mountain environment – putting the future of snow leopards at even greater risk.  It will also endanger the livelihoods of local communities and the tens of millions of people living downstream of these major watersheds.

 

Conservation efforts

  • Numerous agencies are working to conserve the snow leopard and its threatened mountain ecosystems.
  • These include the Snow Leopard Trust, the Snow leopard Conservancy, the Snow Leopard Network, the Cat Specialist Group etc.
  • Very significant investments in conservation have been made. These include:
  1. Establishment of new protected areas within the Snow Leopard range
  2. Anti-poaching measures have been taken by various countries
  3. Initiatives to reduce conflict with herders (e.g. strengthening livestock corrals, vaccination, handicrafts and alternative livelihoods)
Section : Environment & Ecology

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