Snow leopards are in 'real danger': WWF

The strikingly beautiful snow leopards are in "real danger" and there was need to observe, study and develop ways to conserve this rare and endangered species as only 400-700 of the world's best mountain climbers remain in India, according to a leading conservation organisation.

Launching a campaign "Save Our Snow Leopards", WWF-India said that poaching is the major challenge for the protection of this so magnificent species found high altitude Himalayan region.

Snow leopards are poached for their pelts while their bones and other body parts are also in demand for use in traditional Asian medicines, it said.

Retaliatory killing of snow leopards is also a major threat faced by the species since they often attack livestock, causing economic loss to local communities, WWF-India said.

Snow leopards also face habitat and prey loss with the increase of human settlements and developmental activities in their territories.

The snow leopard is found across almost 1,29,000 sq kms in India, in the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

"But with an estimated population of only 400-700 in India, there is a dire need to observe, study and develop ways to help conserve this rare and endangered species," it said.

The WWF-India said that the snow leopard is at the apex of the mountain eco-system and is also an indicator species for the high altitude mountain ecosystem.

"By protecting the snow leopard, we ensure the conservation of our fragile mountain landscapes that are one of the largest sources of freshwater for the Indian subcontinent," it said.

The WWF-India said that "Save Our Snow Leopards" is a call for each of us to come forward in support of the snow leopard.
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