An organization known as the “Snow Leopard Guardians” organized a public meeting in Beijing’s 798 Art District to mark International Snow Leopard Day on October 23rd. Experts on snow leopard research and protection, staff from foundations and social organizations and even a few artists working on installations related to the snow leopard attended and discussed creative ways to protect snow leopards from extinction.
The activity helped the audience learn more about the snow leopard and become more aware of the significance of environmental conservation. A charity bazaar was also held at the scene, in which a great number of works of art, books and paintings of snow leopards were on sale. All of the donations will go towards the snow leopard protection project in Xinjiang Province.
The snow leopard, sometimes considered to be the barometer of the ecosystem in high altitude areas, originated in Tibet 7 million years ago. It has been classified as an endangered species and included in the China Red Data Book of Endangered Animals in 1996. At present China contains as much as 60% of the entire global habitat of the snow leopard, with a population of 2000 to 2500 specimen living in Qinghai, Sichuan, Xinjiang and Tibet. Official nature reserves have been set up by the government in these places in order to provide the felines with a better living environment.
The conservation of the snow leopard faces great challenges. A recent report by the Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRFFIC) shows that on average at least four snow leopards have been killed every week since 2008. 55% of them are killed by people taking revenge for their dead livestock, while 21% are killed for purposes of illegal trade. Moreover, it is predicted that due to climate change the snow leopard’s global habitat will have been reduced by about 23% by 2070.