Target: Inger Andersen, Director General, International Union for Conservation of Nature
Goal: Upgrade conservation status of leopard from near threatened to endangered.
A group of organizations recently convened in hopes of convincing the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to rethink the leopard’s conservation status. Currently listed as near threatened rather than endangered, the leopard appears to be more imperiled than previously thought, according to the group’s findings. Though leopards are found in a broader range than many other big cat species thought to be endangered, many individual populations of leopard are critically endangered, and the loss of these populations would be a massive blow to the species as a whole.
Leopard numbers are rapidly declining on a global scale due to human impacts and other habitat concerns. Though leopards are famously a very adaptable species, the loss of habitat has been so widespread and extensive that the species has, in many areas, failed to maintain a substantial foothold. In the Middle East and Russia, leopards exist in extremely small numbers, in what is called a “relic” population. Leopard numbers have also significantly decreased throughout Asia, though populations still exist in India, China, and other regions. It is small populations such as these that are at most risk.
As the leopard is currently only listed as near threatened by the IUCN, it enjoys few legal conservation protections. An official endangered status could potentially protect the leopard from threats such as hunting and habitat destruction. Ask that the IUCN consider changing the leopard’s official conservation status to endangered, and therefore allowing it the legal protections that such a status confers.
Dear Ms. Anderson,
Though the leopard enjoys a broader range than many other imperiled big cat species, many of its individual populations are under threat of extinction. The loss of any one of these populations could be devastating to the entire species. For this reason, we wish to ask you to reconsider the conservation listing of the leopard.
Currently, the leopard is listed as near threatened rather than endangered. Conservation status is of extreme importance for the protection of imperiled species such as the leopard, and official endangered status confers federal protections on a species that it may not otherwise enjoy. Therefore we, the undersigned, urge you to reassess the conservation status of the leopard and list it as an endangered species.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Srikaanth Sekar