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Snow leopards no longer ‘endangered,’ but still in decline and in need of urgent conservation measures

26 / 09 / 2017, Mongabaycom News

The latest update to the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species had bad news about the conservation status of many species, including some that were previously so abundant that their entry onto the list as endangered or even critically endangered came as something of a surprise. There was at least one species for whom the update bore welcome news, however: the snow leopard, which has been listed as Endangered since 1986 but has now had its threat status downgraded to Vulnerable. “Thanks to new available data, the Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) has moved from the Endangered to Vulnerable category,” the IUCN reported before warning that “its population continues to decline and it still faces a high risk of extinction through habitat loss and degradation, declines in prey, competition with livestock, persecution, and poaching for illegal wildlife trade.” Many scientists and conservationists were quick to underscore the point made by the IUCN about the need for continued conservation efforts to reverse the snow leopards’ ongoing decline and ensure the survival of the species, regardless of its status on the Red List. Indeed, some experts argue that moving the species from Endangered to Vulnerable might not have been warranted at all. The IUCN itself noted that there have been a number of successes in the fight to save snow leopards, while acknowledging that there is a lot of work left to be done: “Thanks to significant investments in conservation for this species, including anti-poaching efforts, initiatives to reduce conflict with livestock, and awareness-raising…

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