Extinction of Snow leopard

April 13, 2023, 4:08 p.m.

Among the members of the big cat family the snow leopard is the only permanent inhabitant of the Central Asia highlands. Found in the subalpine and alpine zones at altitudes over 2,500 meters above sea level.

The snow leopard is adapted to living in harsh climatic conditions. Optimal habitat conditions - the presence of rocks and shallow snow cover.

The snow leopard is knows as the Lord of the snowy mountains, the ghost of the mountains, and even called as God's pet.

Researchers aren’t sure how many snow leopards are left in the world. Exact numbers are unknown, but there may be less than 2,500.

This elusive snow cat is facing a number of threats.

Humans are a reason that snow leopards are endangered. Nearly all of the main threats to snow leopards come from humans who encroach on their territory. Snow leopards are threatened by habitat loss, poaching.

Bones, skin and organs of large cats are valuable in traditional Asian medicine. Tigers are the prefered species for this purpose, but tigers are so rare that it is almost impossible to find one in the wild so snow leopards are substituted for tigers.

Snow leopards are very playful, love to roll in the snow. They often slide down a steep hill at the back and at the end they quickly turn over and fall into the snow on all four paws. After the games, or hunting they make themselves comfortable to bask in the sun.

Being in a good mood, the snow leopard purrs just like a house cat.

Snow leopards inhabit the territories of the Hindu Kush in eastern Afghanistan and the Syr Darya, the mountains of Pamir, Tien Shan, Karakoram, Kashmir, Kunlun, and the Himalaya to southern Siberia, mountains Altai, Sayan, Tannu-Ola and the mountains to the west of Lake Baikal . In Mongolia, it was seen on the Mongolian Altai, Gobi Altai and Khangai Mountains. In Tibet it is found up to Altunshanya in the north.

As more people move into the snow leopard’s domain, they build homes, farms, factories, and infrastructure, taking away more of the cat’s habitat. Trees are cut down to make way for pasture for livestock, which removes shelter for both the snow leopard and its prey.

The snow leopard also faces threats that could destroy the mountain ecosystem it relies on, such as mining and other large-scale development.

Mining and other large-scale developments also threaten snow leopards' habitat. They take up vast tracts of land and change it drastically. But the animals (both leopards and their wild prey) struggle to adapt. They are highly sensitive, requiring a well-balanced mountain ecosystem to thrive.

The illegal trapping and killing of snow leopards remain a significant threat to the snow leopard population.

Between 2008 and 2016 alone, one snow leopard has reportedly been killed and traded every day - 300 to 550 cats per year. The true extent of the problem is thought to be even bigger. The true number of snow leopards that have been killed and sold could be much higher, as poaching in remote areas can go undetected and data is hard to come by.

Body length is up to 130 cm, tail length is 90-100 cm. Withers height - 50-60 cm. Males are slightly larger than females. Body weight of males reaches 45-55 kg, females - 22-40 kg.

Snow leopards typically hunt wild mountain sheep and wild goats that are also hunted by members of local communities. When humans kill these wild animals, there’s less prey for the snow leopards and it’s harder for them to survive.

The Climate Change impact the entire ecosystem: vegetation, water supplies, animals – and they threaten to make up to a third of the snow leopard’s habitat unusable.

Natural habitat includes territories of 13 countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

In this regard, the efforts of only one country to preserve a unique wildcat may be in vain.

What do you think should be done today to ensure the survival of a unique felid species?

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