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Central Asian Nations to Discuss Snow Leopard Conservation

Aug 17, 2013 09:16 AM EDT
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Nepal has a plan which it says will do more to save endangered snow leopards. The Himalayan nation plans to present its seven-point plan at the Global Snow Leopard Conservation conference in October.

The upcoming conference in Kyrgyzstan will focus on increasing the presence of snow leopards in the 12 Asian countries where the cat is found, Maheshwar Dhakal of Nepal's Department of National Parks and Wild Conservation told China's official Xinhua News Agency, according to the UPI.

Dhakal said Nepal will promote proposals to reform existing snow leopard conservation policies, improving the cat's habitat, reducing the occurrence of poaching and human contact and to provide more training to those involved with snow leopard conservation.

Among poaching and habitat loss, which threaten many endangered species, excessive livestock grazing occurs across a vast area of snow leopard habitat in Central Asia, further endangering the animal, according to the big cat conservation group Panthera.

According to the ICUN "Red List" of threatened species, snow leopards have faced population loss of up to 20 percent in the past 16 years due to habitat and prey base loss and poaching.

"While conditions have improved," the ICUN wrote, "poaching and illegal trade is likely to continue in large parts of snow leopard range given growing demand from China."

Of the 12 countries expected to participate in the conference, China has the largest population of snow leopards, with an estimated 2,500, the UPI reported. About 600 are thought to be in India, while just 100 are estimated in Mongolia.

Five hundred snow leopards are thought to be in the Himalayan region of Nepal.

"The population of the leopards in all the countries is estimation," Dhakal said. "That is why I have given emphasis on conducting more research for the conservation of the animal."

Snow leopards are known to live in the alpine and subalpine regions of Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan and possibly Myanmar.

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