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Chinese researchers call for stronger protection of snow leopards



From: Xinhua

Researchers from 19 Chinese organizations have called for more efforts to promote protection of snow leopards and their habitats.

They made the call at the launch event of a report about the status of China's snow leopard survey and conservation in Beijing on Tuesday, which is International Snow Leopard Day.

The report was initiated by an alliance composed of leading nature conservation agencies, research institutions and universities. It was based on 57 Chinese and English references on snow leopards in China published between 1980 and 2018.

According to the report, the survey area so far covers just 1.7 percent of the snow leopard's habitat in China, which is far from the target of 20 percent but to the world average of 2 percent. The southern part of the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau and the western part of the Tianshan Mountains in northwest China's Xinjiang are the two major areas that have not yet been surveyed.

Weak protection by local governments, climate change and lack of community support are the main threats that snow leopards are facing. Furthermore, poaching, habitat fragmentation and human activities also affect the population of the species, the report said.

It suggested a nationwide population survey and a snow leopard landscape management plan for the next five years. It also called for government efforts in strengthening monitoring of protected areas and raising public awareness of the animal.

The snow leopard is a Class-A protected animal in China and the International Union for Conservation of Nature classified it as endangered-to-vulnerable last year. About 60 percent of its habitats are in China.

Since 2008, more organizations have participated in snow leopard study and protection.

"The report is a result of sharing and cooperation among multiple agencies, which should be encouraged," said Lyu Zhi, a wildlife biologist with Peking University.

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