Hit Below the Pelt
Snow Leopards Threatened by Increased Hunting in Afghanistan
The ouster of the Taliban from Afghanistan undoubtedly had many salutary side effects — but not for the region’s snow leopards, according to a new report by three conservation organizations. One of the most endangered big cat species in the world, the snow leopard dwells in the mountains of central and southern Asia, an inhospitable region with few natural predators. But with the regime change in Afghanistan, a market opened up for leopard skins, and illegal hunting has increased sharply. “Every pelt offered for sale is another nail in the snow leopards’ coffin, especially if it’s from a breeding female. That’s why this report is so disturbing,” said Stuart Chapman of the World Wildlife Fund. Habitat loss and fragmentation also threaten the snow leopards.