The majestic Snow Leopard, a descendant of the panther and wild cats, has been at risk of becoming extinct for the past several decades, but now its status has finally been upgraded to “vulnerable.”
Native to the mountainous and snowy ridges of Central Asia, the formerly-endangered Snow Leopard is mostly found in the Himalaya region, thus its name.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) announced last week that a 3-year survey portrayed significant improvements in the leopards’ population, causing a reclassification that thrilled nature enthusiasts who have been fighting continuously to protect the magnificent species.
The rerank was made possible thanks to an improvement in tracking techniques: by using camera traps and satellite imagery conservations were able to monitor the Snow Leopards’ every move and patterns all across Asia, thus understand what endangered their lives. Researchers uncovered that the recorded number of Snow Leopard deaths was most likely caused by farmers who claimed to protect their livestock.
For an animal to be listed as endangered, the species with decreasing population must have less than 2,500 mature adults that live in the wild. Additionally, their numbers have to be in precipitous decline. The most recent study presents rather encouraging data regarding the Snow Leopard population, with an estimate of about 4,000 to 10,000 mature Snow Leopards in the wild.
Conservationists warn that although the reclassification is cause for celebration, the population of the leopards still needs to be closely monitored. Since it is hard to distinguish how many mature Snow Leopards are actually out in the wild and the figure provided is a rough estimate, activists warn the danger of extinction is still a genuine threat.
The IUCN attributes the spring to anti-poaching actions taken by Central Asian societies and the founding of many more protected wildlife zones that have been spread across 12 countries.