Why Are Snow Leopards Endangered | Top 4 Reasons

Here are the most useful facts as to why are snow leopards endangered and what conservation measures have been taken to date. Snow leopards are primarily hunted for their thick and silvery coat which has a significant commercial worth for traders. Currently, there are a handful number of these species left in the coniferous scrublands and upland steppes of the mountain homelands. Snow leopards have well developed jaws that are employed to bite down its prey with incredible force. They are predominantly mountain dwellers and in summer, snow leopards live at an altitude of 2,000 to 4,000 meters (6,561 to 13,123 feet). These animals prey on goats, wild sheep, and ibex graze in high valleys and coniferous scrublands. Snow leopards are typically opportunistic feeders and will consume anything that comes in their way ranging from small birds to the large ungulates. They are solitary hunters.

Today, snow leopards are limited to India, China, Pakistan, Nepal, Russia, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Many agencies are now paying heed to conserve snow leopards and its threatened ecosystems. Some of these are Snow Leopard Conservancy and Snow Leopard Trust. Their sole purpose is to spread awareness among people in general, and villagers in particular regarding snow leopard’s needs and difficulties.

Why are Snow Leopards Endangered


Many animal fur sold in reliable stores comes from mink. This was deemed to be legal. However, snow leopards are illegally hunted because of their most expensive thick coat. Apart from its coat, snow leopard’s bones are also used in several traditional Chinese medicines in spite of the fact that it’s illegal. One of the major difficulties for authorities to implement their laws is that the snow leopards inhabit in mountainous regions and that difficult to police and poor. Authorities have, however, established some conservation parks for leopards but the prey is too scarce in these artificial regions thereby putting pressure on surviving populations.

It’s the Snow Leopard Survival Program that will determine the future of these critically endangered animals. The program involves zoos worldwide, many conservation programs, and a hope that numbers will increase in captivity.

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Snow Leopard in the Zurich Zoo
Image Courtesy of fotopedia.com

Poaching | Why are Snow Leopards Endangered

Despite the fact that snow leopards have been classified as critically endangered species, there does not seem to be any legal protection given to these animals against extreme hunting and poaching. The numbers are drastically declining as the local people have been involved in hunting these leopards in Jammu and Kashmir. Some other causes are habitat loss, deforestation, and poaching for furs and bones.

Armed Conflict | Why are Snow Leopards Endangered

Making things worst, the armed conflict between Pakistan and India on the Kashmir issue further aggravates the situation of snow leopards. The conflict also enables illegal trading in the leopard’s coat and in 1994 a group of traders came into attack in Srinagar that hauled more than one million dollar worth of garments and furs manufactured from more than 1,300 endangered wild cats including leopards and tigers. These incidents are proof to the fact that there were no serious measures taken to ensure the survival of snow leopards.

Scarce Prey | Why are Snow Leopards Endangered

The domestic animals far outnumber natural mainstay prey items including ibex graze, wild goat, and sheep. When the prey is scarce, snow leopards find their way towards domestic livestock which ultimately bring them into direct conflict with native people.

Waleed Khalid

A professional writer and a passionate wildlife enthusiast, who is mostly found hooked to his laptop or in libraries researching about the wildlife.

1 Comment

  1. As of September 2017 the Snow Leopard classification by the IUCN was upgraded from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. This means there are at least 4000 individual breeding adults throughout its range. This article, therefore, is out of date and severely misleading.

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