Mongolia has approved a vast reserve for its snow leopards. The rare mountain cat will find refuge in a new national park. This is good news for the rarest of the big cats, and according to many the most beautiful.
The Mongolian Parliament who voted in favor of this nature reserve granted it and allowed for the good news. The new home for the snow leopards will be along Mongolia’s southeastern border in the Tost Mountains which are of the South Gobi Province.
According to the director of science and conservation for the Snow Leopard Trust, Charu Mishra;
“This Nature Reserve will be a bridge between two existing protected areas, the Great Gobi and the Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park. The resulting landscape will be one of the world’s largest continuous protected leopard habitats.”
The area is home to two active mines and there are 12 more under consideration due to the park. First the park’s final boundaries will be set and once they are, roughly by mid-June, the government will be able to revoke the licenses for any lands that fall inside the boundaries for the park.
The snow leopards have always created much interest and scientists have studied these illusive creatures in the Tost Mountains for roughly 8 years. The Snow Leopard Trust has been tracking the animals while studying them, using GPS collars and camera traps. The camera traps have allowed for rare and beautiful video footage.
The snow leopard is officially endangered and according to The International Union For Conservation of Nature the biggest contributing factors to endangerment of the animal are climate change and poaching. There are other conflicts with humans such as with herders and farmers who hunt down the rare big cats as a way to prevent livestock losses. The farmers and herders also hunt down the snow leopards as revenge for the livestock they have already loss.
Over 1000 of the world’s remaining snow leopards live in Mongolia which makes it the second-largest population of the 12 Central Asian nations who collectively host roughly 3000 to 7500 of them.