Q:

Why are snow leopards endangered?

A:

A number of reasons have combined to endanger snow leopards. Hunting, climate change and farm land encroaching on their habitat are among the major reasons for their population decline.

One of the major reasons is that the organs, skin and bones in big cats are used in many Asian cultures for medicinal purposes. Tigers are more sought after, but they have become almost impossible to find in the wild. This means that other big cats must be substituted, and snow leopards have become a primary target. Poachers can earn as much as $200 for a dead snow leopard in an area where most people earn less than $300 per year, making them an extremely lucrative business.

Farmers have begun to move into snow leopard habitat. In doing so, their livestock has taken away habitat animals for snow leopards prey on. This forces the snow leopard to turn to the livestock as a food source. Farmers, concerned about their livestock, often kill snow leopards to protect them.

Climate change has also created issues, forcing the snow line further up mountains. The means the snow leopard must follow their prey higher up the mountain. At higher elevations, vegetation is more scare, meaning there is less prey for the leopard to eat.


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