Snow leopards are in trouble - and only humans can help.
One of the most exotic and elusive “big cat” species known to mankind, snow leopards are facing extinction due to a variety of factors, but countries are stepping up efforts to protect these animals from poachers, local communities and the effects of changing weather patterns.
Known for choosing cold, high mountains as their habitat of choice, snow leopards are found only in twelve countries across the world. In the Europe and Central Asia region, that includes the Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, and Russia in Europe and Central Asia.
Snow leopards are typically two to five feet in length. They are characterized by their powerful build, white-grey coats with large black spots and rings, and long tails. The former helps them blend in with the steep and mountainous terrain in Central Asia, while the latter provides balance and helps them stay warm.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates their population to be anywhere between 4,000 and 6,500. But that number is falling fast.
Protecting this rare species entails three main measures -- conserving their ecosystems, saving them from poachers and local communities that kill them to protect their livestock, and helping to offset the effect of climate change and human settlements.
The governments of these 12 countries are trying to do exactly that with a multi-year plan called the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Recovery Program (GSLEP), which was initiated in 2012 and is supported by the World Bank Group, Global Environment Facility, and United Nations Development Program, among other organizations. More....