Ecosystems and food webs have a way of balancing themselves out in the end. Human beings, who are the most destructive animals on earth, start their interventionist policies which unfortunately wreak havoc on a massive scale.
Take the case of the snow leopard. This is one of the most beautiful yet mysterious of big cats and it is also an endangered species. This creature is adapted to the snowy mountainous regions of Asia.
Termed “the ghost of the mountains” this cat is rarely seen. It is a recluse among animals. The facts before us are clear as the light of day. Millions of people use the waters flowing from the mountains that the snow leopard inhabits.
The territory of these big cats may get disrupted unless measures are taken to curb climate change. Less than 14% of the endangered species are being covered by conservationists. This is not enough to ensure its continued existence and survival in the wild. The importance of these beautiful beasts cannot be emphasized more.
WWF launched a new report on International Snow Leopard Day titled “Fragile Connections: Snow leopards, people, water and the global climate.” This report reveals that “more than a third of snow leopard habitat could be rendered unsuitable for the endangered big cats if climate change is not checked.
Warmer temperatures could see the tree line shifting up the mountains and farmers planting crops and grazing livestock at higher altitudes, squeezing the remaining snow leopards into smaller pockets.”
As great numbers of these denizens of the coldest regions die off due to encroachments upon their habitat by mankind, steps must be taken and that too, on an urgent basis. The species is currently in a state of crisis. They are at present limited to the loci of 12 nations of Central and Southeast Asia.
The destruction and atomization of their milieus is something that has to be stopped immediately. The steamroller effect of climate change has seen to it that the species is seriously threatened. Poachers, dangers from human communities close-by and loss of their surrounding natural amenities and ecology has led to a scarcity of snow leopards.
“Urgent action is needed to curb climate change and prevent further degradation of snow leopard habitat, otherwise the ‘ghost of the mountains’ could vanish, along with critical water supplies for hundreds of millions of people,” said Rishi Kumar Sharma, WWF Global Snow Leopard Leader, who is coordinating WWF’s first ever global strategy to conserve the iconic species.
Further degradation of the natural environment by humans has made this species venture out of sight to the remote areas of the mountains. All the ugly changes wrought by mankind in the loci where these big cats live have made life for them a living hell.
Even the canines the human beings possess compete with these beasts for their food supply. This is tragic indeed. The terrain where snow leopards exist is now confined mainly to the Himalayas and Tibet. The prey that the snow leopard hunts such as markhor, ibex and blue sheep are fast disappearing from the region.
Finally, there is the issue of water supply since snow leopards live in frozen areas. Something must be done for these rare animals, otherwise we will lose another species like the passenger pigeon and the dodo.
“Through GSLEP, governments across the snow leopard range have boldly committed to empowering their most remote—and often most vulnerable—communities to build the resiliency of high mountain landscapes,” said Kate Newman, who leads the AHM project.
“With USAID, we’re working in high-mountain and ‘gateway communities’ nestled on the edge of the snow leopard range to embrace sustainable, climate-smart activities that will benefit both people and nature.”
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