Snow leopards no longer endangered



Virginia Fielder, Staff Editor

On Sept. 14 the snow leopard species was removed from the “endangered list” and was bumped down a level to “vulnerable” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. This came after three years of research and observation by five international experts.

For an animal or plant species to be considered endangered they must have fewer than 2,500 animals or plants alive and each species must be experiencing a high rate of decline. The snow leopard species, local in Central Asia, was ranked in the category of almost extinction and slowly decreasing because of multiple reasons- all of them stemming from humans. First off, snow leopard pelts are of high value and a poacher who doesn’t make a lot of money could earn up to $10,000 on a pelt. Humans and especially farmers have pushed the boundaries for snow leopard living space. Livestock in Central Asia, such as sheep and goats, are overgrazing. Therefor more of those species are dying off, creating a domino effect since now the snow leopard species has less food to eat too. Last of all, the bones, skin and organs of large feline species are often used in Asian medicines. Tigers are normally the best option and more preferred species to use for their medicines, but tigers are harder to find in the wild because they are so rare. Since tigers are not an option, next on the list would be snow leopards. These three reasons caused the unfortunate effect of snow leopard endangerment.

Thankfully, now the snow leopard species is classified as “vulnerable”, meaning that the species has under 10,000 breeding animals left, with a population decline of at least 10% over three generations. This is definitely an improved category for snow leopards. This is because the number of protected areas of the snow leopard’s’ habitat have significantly increased over time.  

“I’m really glad that snow leopards aren’t endangered anymore,” junior Ashley Wallace said. “They are quite beautiful animals and it would be a shame if they were to die off.”

Although snow leopards aren’t endangered anymore, their “vulnerable” status could again go down. As long as their extinction awareness continues to be promoted, the snow leopard species could thrive once more.

“Everyone should take note of what is happening to animal species’,” Wallace said. “We need to preserve plants and animals because we shouldn’t take their place on earth for granted.”