The already vulnerable snow leopard is facing another threat - warmer temperatures caused by global climate change which are shrinking its natural habitat This news comes from a report released by conservation charity World Wildlife Foundation (WFF).
The report says that within the next few years, more than a third of the animal's mountain living areas could become uninhabitable because of climate change. Already, there is evidence that shows that native plants and trees are not able to survive locally in warmer temperatures.
Snow leopards are usually found at elevations of 11,480-14,760ft.
The report, which describes snow leopards as one of the most beautiful and enigmatic big cats and "also one of the most elusive and endangered," says climate warming adds to the many threats which places the animal amongst the world’s top endangered species list.
The WWF says the snow leopard's main habitat, the eastern Himalayas is being increasingly encroached upon by human habitation. Declining numbers of its natural prey is seeing also snow leopards attack livestock, making them a target for farmers. Additionally, poaching accounts for a decline in snow leopard numbers, as some Asian countries highly value parts for traditional medicines.
Rebecca May, who heads WWF Snow Leopard Program says, "The Himalayas region will face a major crisis if we choose to ignore climate change. Not only do we risk losing majestic species such as the snow leopard, but hundreds of millions of people who rely on water flowing from these mountains may be affected."
She says hopefully the success of Nepal, Bhutan and India’s success in increasing the number of endangered species such as rhinos and tigers can be replicated for snow leopards.
WWF estimates there are only 4,000 to 6,000 snow leopards left in the world.