The snow leopard is related to the common leopard of Africa and Asia, but because its way of life and general appearance are so different it is regarded as a separate species.


Threats to the Snow Leopard

There are several reasons why the snow leopard is an endangered species. First and foremost, it has probably never existed in large numbers. It is solitary by nature and lives in a harsh, dangerous environment where a false step or misjudged leap could end in disaster. There is also danger from hunters, who kill the snow leopard for its beautiful coat of fur. Herdsmen will kill snow leopards to protect their cattle and humans also affect the species by felling forests for cultivation or hydroelectric schemes.

There are as few as 4000 snow leopards in the wild, and their numbers are declining due to habitat loss, poaching and the impact of climate change. The snow leopard has been fully protected in most of its 12 range states. It is also illegal to possess a coat made from snow leopard fur, but such coats are still sold. Urgent and decisive action must be taken if this species is going to survive the 21st century.

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