The Snow Leopard

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Endangered Animal: Snow Leopard

The snow leopard or Panthera unica is one of the most endangered cats on the globe. It is native mostly between 3,500 and 5,500 meters above sea level in the mountain ranges of Central Asia. They can also be found across Afghanistan, India, Mongolia, Nepal, China, Pakistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic and Tajikistan. Their numbers are said to be between 3,500 and 7,500, and an estimated 700 snow leopards are kept in zoos around the world. They play I vital role in many ecosystems by keeping down numbers of other cats and wild animals. They are indicator species in Himalayan Ecosystems. They are also valuable to ecotourism services.

Snow Leopards have been categorized as an Endangered Species by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) since 1972, and are protected by the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITIES). There are several reasons why these cats are endangered for one their organs, bones, and skins are valuable in traditional Asian medicine which makes them hunted very heavily. In addition the international fur market is very lucrative and the coats of snow leopards catch a very good sum on the markets, a full length snow leopard coat costs around 60,000 dollars on the black market. Like most endangered animals humans are also to blame, the approach further and further on snow leopards territory destroying their habitat with cultivation. Overgrazing by farmers livestock damages the fragile mountain grass lands leaving less food for the sheep and goats which are the snow leopards main prey. The death of there pray forces many snow leopards to feed on farmers livestock, farmers then retaliate by trapping, poisoning, or shooting snow leopards.

As mentioned in the previous paragraphs there are several agencies working to conserve the snow leopards and their threatened mountain ecosystems. Many of these groups host fundraisers that raise money for...
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