The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in September 2017 announced that snow leopards are no longer considered an endangered species.
The IUCN moved the animal into the less urgent “vulnerable” category. Although, the species still remain at risk from a reduction in numbers of its prey and poaching for its fur and bones.
It is interesting to note that the IUCN has reclassified snow leopard for the first time in 45 years.
Difference between Endangered species and Vulnerable species
An endangered species is a species, which has been categorized as likely to become extinct. Endangered, as categorized by the IUCN Red List, is the second most severe conservation status for wild populations in the IUCN's schema after Critically Endangered. As per IUCN, species are considered Endangered, if they are fewer than 2500 and experiencing high rate of decline.
On the other hand, a Vulnerable species is one which has been categorized by the IUCN as likely to become endangered unless the circumstances threatening its survival and reproduction improve. Vulnerability is mainly caused by habitat loss or destruction of the species home. Species are considered Vulnerable when they are fewer than 10000 and its population has declined at least 10 per cent over three generations.
About Snow Leopards
• The snow leopard is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.
• As of 2016, estimates for the size of the global population vary from at least 4080 to about 8700 individuals.
• Snow leopards inhabit alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3000 to 4500 m.
• Snow leopard has been considered a member of the genus Panthera since 2008.
About IUCN Red List
• The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species is the world's most comprehensive inventory of the global conservation status of biological species.
• The list was founded in 1964.
• The IUCN is the world's main authority on the conservation status of species.
• The IUCN Red List is set upon precise criteria to evaluate the extinction risk of thousands of species and subspecies. These criteria are relevant to all species and all regions of the world.
• The aim of the list is to convey the urgency of conservation issues to the public and policy makers, as well as help the international community to try to reduce species extinction.