Leaders from 12 countries shall work together to save the snow leopard populations – which are affected by climate change – in the Central Asian mountains.
The World Wildlife Fund said in a report – published this week – that the only about 2500 snow leopard adults are currently living in the wild, and that the already endangered animals are negatively impacted by climate change.
Snow leopards live in 12 countries in Central Asia on rocky and mountainous terrains.
“Increased habitat loss and degradation, poaching and conflict with communities have contributed to a 20 percent decline in the population in the past 16 years,” the World Wildlife Fund stated.
Climate change may push this leopard species over the edge, the World Wildlife Fund added.
An increase in temperature will lead to northern shifts, making local farmers move to higher altitudes to raise their livestock and plant their crops. The snow leopards will be forced to adapt to the new human settlements and live in much smaller habitats.
Water resources could also be affected by warming temperatures, as the water flow located at high-altitudes may drastically change. Currently about 330 million people depend on these waters, as well as countless other species.
Brad Rutherford, executive director of the Snow Leopard Trust, believes that by helping the leopards we will also be helping the humans who share the landscape with the giant felines.
At the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), the 12 countries signed the Bishkek Declaration which, amongst other things, confirms the concerns that these countries have regarding the snow leopard population, and affirms that collective action has to be taken to conserve the snow leopard populations and their natural habitat.
About twenty healthy snow leopard populations shall be identified and secured by 2020 through the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program.
Peter Matthiessen, an American wilderness writer, environmentalist and CIA agent – who passed away in 2014 – went to Nepal in 1970 and spent months hiking in hopes of finding a snow leopard, but he failed to do so. Mr. Matthiessen wrote in his book “The Snow Leopard” that if he had to choose to be eaten by an animal, he would most likely choose the snow leopard, that is how mesmerised he was by the animal’s beauty.
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