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| Last Updated:: 24/10/2016

Lives of snow leopards in danger; hundreds being killed every year, warns report









The animals that are essential for human sustenance are slowly disappearing. Of course, climate change is one of the culprits, but there's another culprit that humans can control, but aren't – illegal wildlife trade.



Illegal wildlife trade is an unrivaled, flourishing business and is continually on the rise. The kind of torture and harassment that innocent animals are subjected to in the hands of poachers and traders is unfathomable.



It is slowly taking up the guise of a sport for people who indulge in it, which is unhealthy for the environment and more importantly, is putting the lives of innocent animals at stake.



The latest species of animals that have become a victim of this appalling practice are snow leopards.



According to reports, hundreds of snow leopards are being killed every year across central Asia. The lives of the already endangered big cats hang by a thread and there are as few as 4,000 of them remaining and numbers have fallen by a fifth in the last 16 years.



Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network, found that between 220 and 450 sno leopards are killed each year, according to The Guardian. However, this number could be much higher, as killings in remote mountain areas often go undetected, the NGO warned.



The Guardian further mentioned that, over half the so-called “ghosts of the mountains” are killed by farmers in retaliation for attacks on livestock and 20% are trapped by snares set for other creatures. Another 20% are killed for the illegal fur trade, though pelts from snow leopards killed for other reasons are often sold on.



To reduce the killings, the report’s authors recommend the roll-out of leopard-proof corrals for yaks and horses and insurance schemes for farmers. Such schemes are already being tested, for example in a village in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The natural prey of snow leopards are Himalayan blue sheep and ibex, but their numbers have fallen as their habitat is converted to farmland.




A total of 12 nations are home to snow leopards, but more than 90% of the reported snow leopard poaching takes place in five countries: China and Mongolia, which host most snow leopards, as well as Pakistan, India and Tajikistan, which each have just a few hundred of the animals.