The snow leopard’s conservation status has improved in recent years. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Son Truong
The species, which has long teetered on the edge of extinction, is finally starting to make a comeback.
The iconic cats, which are native to the remote mountain regions of Central and Southern Asia, have often been used to promote conservation efforts and to raise awareness for threatened species.
Now though, after being classed as “endangered” for 45 years, the snow leopard has finally managed to recover enough to have its conservation status improved to “vulnerable”.
While these elusive cats are still very much at risk, the change offers a glimmer of hope that the species, along with many others, can be brought back from the brink.
“To be considered ‘endangered,’ there must be fewer than 2,500 mature snow leopards and they must be experiencing a high rate of decline,” said snow leopard expert Dr Tom McCarthy.
“Both are now considered extremely unlikely, which is the good news, but it does not mean that snow leopards are ‘safe’ or that now is a time to celebrate. The species still faces ‘a high risk of extinction in the wild’, and is likely still declining – just not at the rate previously thought.”
As things stand, there are thought to be between 4,080 and 8,700 snow leopards left in the wild.
With any luck it will be possible to increase these numbers further over the coming decades.
Tags: Snow Leopard