Protecting the Snow Leopards of Central and Southern Asia

 

Snow leopards, among the rarest cat species on earth, are inhabitants in the mountains of the Himalayas but their numbers are decreasing rapidly. Wildlife experts are launching projects to save the snow leopard from extinction.


Snow leopards normally live in the rocky mountain ranges of southern and central Asia, at a height of between 3.000 and 5,000 meters. During the 1960s the population has gone down to as low as a thousand but since then it has risen again. About 4,000 to 7,000 of them still exist in the wild but they live in secrecy. The shy animals live alone, in caves and rocky caverns. Snow leopards move around very much. Their range spans between a hundred and over 2,000 square miles.


Especially in Afghanistan the snow leopard is in danger because of illegal hunting. Their beautiful fur is in high demand and very expensive. Their bones are used in Chinese medicine. In the past years the prey of the snow leopards, wild goats and sheep, has been diminished too.


Snow leopards like the harsh mountain habitat. But as humans move closer and closer into this habitat they endanger the snow leopard’s living areas. Overgrazing has made feeding areas smaller. Snow leopards attack the livestock of farmers and get shot in return.


There are many agencies and organizations working on protecting the snow leopard. At an international conference in Beijing governments in Asia have vowed to help save the endangered animal. Zoos are also helping out and creating habitats for snow leopards.

 

Snow Leopard of Central Asia

Snow Leopard of Central Asia

 

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Words

  • agency = organization
  • among = belonging to
  • cavern = a large cave
  • decrease = to go down
  • diminish = reduce, to go down
  • endanger = put in danger
  • especially = above all
  • extinction = death, destruction
  • feeding area = place where they get their food
  • fur = hairy skin of an animal
  • government = the people who rule a country
  • habitat = living area
  • harsh = unkind, cruel
  • high demand = a lot of people want to buy it
  • illegal = against the law
  • inhabitant = here: an animal that lives in a certain area
  • launch = start
  • livestock = animals that farmers raise for food
  • mountain range = group of mountains in a line
  • overgrazing = when too many animals eat grass so that not enough can grow again
  • population = here: number of living animals
  • prey = here: the animals that they eat
  • protect = save, guard
  • rapidly =quickly
  • rare-rarer-rarest = something that is not found very often
  • secrecy = being alone, without anyone near
  • shy = not willing to get into contact with other creatures
  • span = to go from…. to ….
  • vow = promise