What is a Snow Leopard?
What did one snow leopard say to the other snow leopard?
'I'm snow glad you're still around.'
Unfortunately, this is not just a funny joke; it's a reality for the world's snow leopards. This shy, rarely seen animal is endangered and on the verge of not existing anymore.
Currently, only about 3,500-7,000 snow leopards remain on earth. By comparison, there are over 73 million dogs in the United States alone. That means for every snow leopard that is still alive, there are about 10,000 dogs just in our country!
Snow leopards live on the Asian continent. Their habitat includes the rocky ground and steep cliffs of mountainsides. Known for their snow-white fur, which is sometimes yellowish or grayish, the snow leopard is made for the cold temperatures on the mountainside.
So, why are snow leopards endangered? Unfortunately, it has a lot to do with people.
What is Poaching?
If someone offered you a million dollars to do something that you knew was against the law, would you do it? One big reason that snow leopards are endangered is because of poaching. Poachers illegally kill snow leopards, even though they are endangered, and sell the animals for money.
The snow leopard's thick, white fur is highly sought after to make fur clothing. Additionally, people buy their bones, skins, and organs and grind them up to make medicine. Just think: if you lived in Asia and had an ear infection or strep throat, you might have to take snow leopard pills!
What is Overgrazing?
Have you ever had someone steal your food? Maybe your brother or sister ate the last cookie or grabbed the last piece of delicious chicken at dinner. Unfortunately, people are causing the snow leopard's food to go away, but in a much different way.
As more land is cleared for farming, farmers and their livestock are moving closer to snow leopards' habitats. Unfortunately, this means farm animals and livestock are overgrazing, or eating too much of the food in the area. With grass and other food sources gone, the animals the snow leopard usually eats, such as wild goat, sheep, and birds, leave the area. As a result, the snow leopard has no food and starts attacking farmers' livestock.
When a snow leopard starts eating livestock from a farm, the farmer will often hunt the snow leopard down and kill it. Thankfully, local governments and groups have started working with farmers to develop ways to keep their livestock safe. Additionally, farmers are being offered money as a reimbursement for any livestock snow leopards kill.
Snow leopards are endangered animals that live in the mountains of Asia. Poaching threatens the snow leopard because people use the leopards for fur and to make medicines. Overgrazing by nearby farm animals also causes farmers to kill snow leopards when they attack their farm animals and livestock looking for food.
To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account
Why is the Snow Leopard Endangered?: Discussion Questions
In this activity, you'll check your knowledge regarding the reasons why snow leopards are endangered animals.
For this activity, print or copy this page on a blank piece of paper. Then, carefully read the given narrative and provide a written response to the questions that follow. You may use the web to search for ideas in answering the questions.
The Apex Predator in the Snow
The snow leopard is a large cat native to the cold mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. Its white-gray coat, spattered with large black rosettes, blends in perfectly with the steep and rocky mountains of these regions. This animal is a carnivore and actively hunts its prey, such as blue sheep and wild goats. It is an opportunistic hunter and also eats decaying animal matter for survival. Snow leopards are also prone to having conflicts with humans, notably when they prey on domestic livestock. The species is listed as Vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) because of its declining population. According to experts, snow leopard numbers will decline by about ten percent in the next 20 years.
- Who played an integral part in the declining population of the snow leopards? Explain your answer.
- There are about 4000 to 7000 snow leopards in the wild. Since their numbers are quite big, should people continue hunting snow leopards?
- Tigers and snow leopards are sought after animals. But why are people more interested in snow leopards?
- Give an example of how people have helped in the conservation of snow leopards.
- Humans have played a principal role in the declining population of snow leopards.
- No, because snow leopards are a threatened species. If hunting continues, then they will follow the same fate of critically-endangered animals like rhinos and orangutans.
- The dwindling population of tigers could not meet the demand for tiger products. For this reason, snow leopards became their substitute. Snow leopard body parts were used to make amulets, fur clothing, medicine, etc.
- Countries and organizations all over the world have signed a treaty to end the use and sale of snow leopard products.
Register to view this lesson
Unlock Your Education
See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com
Become a Study.com member and start learning now.Become a Member
Already a member? Log InBack