My endangered wildlife paintings are included in a special category to provide updated information about the protective support that is currently underway by major wildlife conservation partners.
The snow leopard is unable to roar but puffing, hissing, growling, screaming, yowling, moaning, and even purring are enough for this elusive and mysterious cat.
The information about the snow leopard is from the official websites of WCN wildnet.org (Wildlife Conservation Network) and partner Snow Leopard Conservancy who are protecting endangered wildlife. (Please see Artist’s Disclaimer at bottom.)
PROTECTING SNOW LEOPARDS
The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable with a population that is decreasing on the IUCN “Red List of Threatened Species.”
WCN conservation partner Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) creates harmony between people and the endangered snow leopard.
The strikingly beautiful but endangered snow leopard remains one of the world’s most mysterious cats. Rarely sighted, it inhabits the high mountains of Central Asia over an expansive twelve-country range.
Unfortunately, the snow leopard can come into conflict with the economic needs of the people who live in and around its habitat. These communities are largely pastoral, and snow leopards pose a threat to their livestock. When people move into the snow leopard’s traditional habitat, the big cat loses much of its traditional prey and then targets domestic stock. Snow leopards also carry valuable skins that can provide much-needed income to villagers, 40% of whom live at the poverty line.
Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC) engages local people and builds on their traditional beliefs to create harmony between people and the endangered snow leopard. Its creative programs serve as a model for community-based conservation and bolster the snow leopard’s chances for survival.
The goals in our Land of the Snow Leopard Network program are:
Merging western and indigenous approaches to scientific knowledge;
Establishing a precedent for Indigenous Cultural Practitioners (ICPs) to be co-equal partners in snow leopard conservation, standardize integration of relational world-views in such planning,
Revitalizing ancient ceremonies to remember and honor the snow leopard spirit as a unifier of humanity;
Establishing sacred sites as education/interpretive centers for the spiritual and terrestrial ecology of snow leopards;
Empowering cultural practitioners with new communication technologies, and building an on-line network.
International Organizations Maintain Information and Determine Status of the Snow Leopard in Order to Guide Conservation
The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) is a world-wide membership union made up 0f 1300 governmental and non-governmental organizations and more than 14,000 experts. It was created in 1948 and has become the largest repository of environmental knowledge regarding the status of our natural world and what is being done to protect it. The IUCN provides information about range, population size, habitat and ecology, use and/or trade, threats, and conservation actions that will help inform necessary conservation decisions.
The IUCN has defined the criteria that identifies species that are at risk of extinction. The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable with a population that is decreasing on the IUCN’s “Red List of Threatened Species.”
CITES is a second organization that attempts to identify animal species that are at risk. CITES is the United Nations Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species. CITES bans or strictly limits trade of animals or their body parts. Since 1975, the snow leopard has been listed by CITES in Appendix I, which includes species that are threatened with extinction. This means it is illegal to internationally trade in snow leopards or their body parts.
Number of Snow Leopard In The Wild
As of November 2016, the IUCN estimates there are between 2710 and 3386 snow leopards living in the mountains of central Asia. The Snow Leopard Conservancy’s 2010 estimate is a bit larger, being between 4500 and 7500 individuals. And yet another estimate by McCarthy & Chapron from 2003 is between 4,080 and 6,500. And it is believed that 60% of the entire population of snow leopards live in China. The rough estimates shown here have been based on limited surveys. Because snow leopards move across boundaries, they may have been counted twice. Reports of sightings or the sign they leave in the environment can be misleading. In some areas, for instance where wars have been fought, there may be fewer cats than in past decades. In other areas where snow leopards are being protected, their numbers may have grown. Because of the difficulty of studying snow leopards we do not know what their historical population might have been. New technologies such as DNA analysis and camera traps will allow researchers to make better estimates. In time we will have the data that will tell us whether the snow leopard’s numbers are growing or declining. For now, we can only guess.
Number of Snow Leopard At Zoos
There are approximately 600 snow leopards living in accredited zoos worldwide including approximately 250 in American zoos. Suitable mates are selected under the guidance of the Species Survival Plan for snow leopards.
The American Zoo and Aquarium Association’s Species Survival Plan program was initiated in 1981, and includes a plan for snow leopards. Under this program, zoos cooperate to manage individual animals as a single population. While this program will ensure that snow leopards do not become extinct, reintroducing snow leopards into their natural habitat is not a viable option at this time. We need more information about their status in the wild. Their habitat must be preserved. We must work on the problems of conflicts between people and wildlife.
Education Needed For Working With Snow Leopards
Most entry-level zoo keeper positions now require a four-year college degree. Training in animal science, zoology, marine biology, conservation biology, wildlife management, and animal behavior is preferred. Curatorial, research, and conservation positions typically require advanced academic degrees. However, advanced academic training by itself is insufficient, and it may take years of “on-the-job training” for someone to learn the practical aspects of exotic animal care. A few institutions offer curatorial internships which are designed to provide practical experience. For working in the wild, a Master of Science degree in zoology, animal behavior or wildlife management would be required.
Title: Snow Leopard – Silent Guardian
Reference photo for this artwork is licensed royalty-free from Shutterstock.