Snow leopards were classified as an endangered species in 1972, and wild populations have finally grown to a level where the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has decided to reclassify the mountain-dwelling predators as a vulnerable species.
Our #FridayFeeling is relief. 🙌😯😀
— Save Wild Nature (@SaveWildNature) September 15, 2017
The ICUN closely studied snow leopards for three years, and because there are no fewer than 2,500 adult snow leopards in the wild, and the population is not rapidly declining, they no longer qualify as an endangered species. As a matter of fact, it is estimated that there are between 4,000 and 10,000 snow leopards living throughout China, Mongolia, India, and other Central Asian nations.
The upgrade to the new vulnerable status shows that snow leopards are starting to recover from the threats of illegal poaching and the overhunting of their preferred large-hoofed prey species. The new conservation label signifies that snow leopards are not currently in danger of imminent extinction. Snow leopards should and will still be protected until they become a relatively common animal, but it’s nice to know that the conservation efforts used to promote the growth of this species have been effective so far.
— Snow Leopard Trust (@snowleopards) September 12, 2017
Snow leopards weigh between 60 and 120 pounds and hunt a variety of animals including Himalayan blue sheep, marmots, and mountain ibex. A snow leopard can survive in the frigid Himalayas due to its thick fur, wide snowshoe-like feet, and long tail, which is used to keep its balance while leaping up to 50 feet at a time between rocky outcroppings in search of prey. These big cats share the classification of a “vulnerable species” along with many other animals, including the koala, mandrill, polar bear, and great white shark.