The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has downgraded conservation status of snow leopard from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. It was changed after three-year assessment process by international experts.
The change in status comes 45 years after snow leopard was first declared endangered in 1972. However, experts have warned that snow leopard species still faces serious threats from poaching and habitat destruction.
Endangered Species: According to IUCN, species are considered ‘endangered,’ if they are fewer than 2,500 and experiencing high rate of decline.
Vulnerable Species: Species are fewer than 10,000 and its population has declined at least 10% over three generations.
Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains. It inhabits in alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m. In the northern range countries, it is also found at lower elevations.
It is threatened by poaching for their fur, habitat destruction by infrastructure developments and climate change. It mostly feed on wild animals, but also prey on livestock. It usually hunts at dawn and dusk and is able to kill prey up to three times their own weight. It is National Heritage Animal of Pakistan and Afghanistan.