Friday, 1 September 2017

Scientists split over snow leopard status

By Navin Singh KhadkaEnvironment reporter, BBC World Service
24 August 2017

Scientists are deeply divided on whether snow leopards are still endangered species, a BBC investigation has found.

Some big cat experts say their population has stabilised and increased in a number of places.
This, they claim, has slowed the overall rate of decline.

Others argue that there has been no robust scientific study to prove either that the population has stabilised.

Amid the disagreement, top officials from 12 countries within the snow leopard range are meeting in Kyrgyzstan to further strengthen conservation of the elusive big cats.
The differences of opinion among scientists have intensified as a downgrading of the threat to snow leopards - from "endangered" to "vulnerable" - is expected from the IUCN Red List soon.

The Red List is the most comprehensive inventory of the conservation status of different species.

The list maintained by the international nature conservation body is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the status of biological species.

Scientists who believe that the number of snow leopards has gone up say the information is based on people working in the field.

"Experts from each range countries were asked to come up with best estimates of snow leopard population by country and the total was between 7,400 and 8,000 animals," says Dr Tom McCarthy, snow leopard program executive director for Panthera, the global wild cat conservation organisation.

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