Chennai: Critically endangered snow leopard, a cross border international species already facing habitat destruction, is continuously facing the threat of poaching and their population had dipped by about 8 percent in a decade due to illegal international fur trade in high altitude mountains of 11 countries including the glaciers of Himalayas, a recent study by two Indian conservationists based in Tamil Nadu and Uttar Pradesh had revealed.
The unique rare study taken up by an Indian Forest Officer Shekhar Kumar Niraj, who is now additional principal conservator of forests posted in Tamil Nadu along with conservationist Aishwarya Maheshwari associated with University of Agriculture and Technology, Banda, Uttar Pradesh, revealed that China (50.6 percent) and Afghanistan (30 per cent) together contributed 80 percent of the recorded volume of illegal snow leopards in trade between 2003 and 2014.
The study is a compilation of data dating back to 2003 and also incorporates market surveys and seizures made till 2017 and is now published in Dutch research journal Elsevier.
“United States Agency for International Development (USAID) has funded the project and this is a dream come true research paper as it is a prestigious project tracking and studying a elusive big cat as a co author,” beams the senior bureaucrat Niraj, who had also been the head of TN project tiger project.
In case of prosecution rate, of the studied 88 records, 40 were registered and qualified for legal proceedings within and outside the snow leopard natural range. Within the snow leopard range countries, the study found 100 percent prosecution rate in India (6/6), Nepal and Russia (1/1) followed by Mongolia (50 per cent, 3/6), Kyrgyzstan (1/2), and China (17/36). whereas Afghanistan had lowest prosecution rate of 6.7% (1/15)....