Snow leopards in sharp decline
30th July 2009
In Nepal theyâ€™ve gone down 25%. Itâ€™s feared the fall is being replicated elsewhere, though there are successful breeding programmes in zoos around the world.
A census carried out from November 19th 2008 to March 7 2009 in 14 districts in Nepal showed the population of snow leopards to be between 300 and 400. The previous year the figure was put at 400 – 500.
The counting of snow leopards was done in the mountainous region from Ganesh Himal to Rolwaling, Sagarmatha, Makalu Varun and Kanchanjungha with financial backing from WWF America, England and Finland.The snow leopard is a moderately large cat native to the high mountain ranges of Central Asia and Russia, including in Afghanistan, China, India, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan.
In total there are thought to be only about 3,500 of the animals left in the world and the species is endangered. It is on the World Conservation Union’s Red List of Threatened Species
However there is a successful breeding programme taking place in zoos around the world.
In the US cubs have been born recently too.
At Hogle Zoo in Utah. A male cub was born on May 7th, the first snow leopard to be born at the zoo in 20 years.
“The birth is important for a number of reasons,” said Steve Feldman from the Association of Zoos and Aquariums. “These are very rare in the wild. This birth gives people a chance to understand and connect to these magnificent animals and it allows the zoo to provide information for protecting them in the wild.”
There are 140 snow leopards in zoos across the United States. An average of six cubs are born in captivity each year.
Woodland Park Zoo in Seattle has just managed to successfully breed twin cubs, like at the Welsh Mountain Zoo.
The Woodland Park Zoo’s first snow leopards arrived in 1972 from the USSR and had now managed to have 28 cubs born under The Snow Leopard Species Survival Plan (SSP).
They are then sent to other zoos across the world to help diversify the genetic pool of the species.
For more on these magnificent animals see here.