There are thought to be only 4000 left with 450 being killed each year.
The majestic snow leopard can be seen patrolling the mountains of Central Asia but over the years their numbers have declined due to illegal poaching or farmers who take revenge for the leopards killing precious livestock. Either way, it’s estimated that 450 of the creatures have been exterminated since 2008 according to a wildlife trade monitoring network called Traffic and World Wildlife Fund.
Around 4000 snow leopards live in the mountains of China, India, Pakistan, Mongolia and Tajikistan but the 450 a year estimation could be much higher due to the illegal and secretive nature of poaching for their bones, fur and teeth which is in high demand. However, it is thought that most of the killings are through retaliation killings by herders.
“We think that what most observations, seizure records, and expert opinion shows are that the majority is still happening because of retaliatory killing,” stated James Compton from Traffic.
While it’s being brought to the attention of authoritative governments before it’s too late, there is good news. The Kyrgyzstan government have put conservation efforts in place by creating a sanctuary in a popular snow leopard hunting ground called Shamshy, near the capital city Bishkek.
Co-managed by the Snow Leopard Trust and the Snow Leopard Foundation, the project has, so far, seen positive results however, the report by Traffic emphasises the need for local communities to work together in order to live harmoniously with the snow leopard population and find new ways to protect livestock.
For more information you can read the report issued by Traffic here.