Truth Behind Extinction
“The biggest reason snow leopards are being killed is that they eat people's livestock,” says Tom McCarthy, science and conservation director of the Seattle -based organization Snow Leopard Trust. Snow leopards are eating domestic animals, which is negatively impacting the livelihood of the herders that live in the region. As a result, the herders are killing them by either shooting or poisoning them. Another human threat to the snow leopard is illegal poaching. The cat’s rich fur is very precious, selling for around $600. That can be as much as three year’s salary to the people that are living in the mountains. So humans are playing a big role in why these cats can’t survive.
These animals are going away fast and they need lots of help.
Help is on the Way
Scientists are doing everything to help this cause. For example, George Schaller, vice president of Panthera, a New York-based cat conservation organization, states, “We are working with local communities because they will decide the fate of these animals.” Scientists have worked with locals to save the snow leopard. For instance, scientists have vaccinated livestock in Pakistan so fewer animals in a family's group of livestock die of disease. Therefore, if a snow leopard happens to kill an animal from their group, it is not as devastating to that family's livelihood. Also, scientists have even established livestock insurance policies to pay for the snow leopard’s kills on the livestock. In return, the villagers sign a contract stating that they won’t kill the cats or prey.
You Can Help too
Even though scientists have contributed a lot to this cause, you can help too. “We need young people to get out there and study these animals,” says Schaller. The snow leopard is a top predator in those mountains. If you protect the cat, you also protect all the plants and animals that live there as well.