Snow leopard poaching crisis in Afghanistan

The last few hundred snow leopards in Afghanistan could soon disappear if foreigners don't stop buying their pelts.

A recent investigation by Reuters found snow leopard skins for sale at several shops in Kabul, along with promises of easy shipment out of the country. Afghanis themselves can't afford to buy the pelts, but with foreign money pouring into the poverty-stricken country, they can barely afford not to shoot the big cats, even though hunting them has been banned since 2002.

Just an estimated 100 to 200 snow leopards remain in Afghanistan, out of maybe 3,500 to 7,000 worldwide. (According to a recent article in National Geographic, their population may have already dropped below that 3,500 mark.)

Snow leopards are protected under the international CITES agreement, which bans trade in endangered species and products made with their parts. Not that seems to stop people...

For more information on snow leopards, visit the Snow Leopard Trust, a great organization which takes a unique partnership-based approach to conservation.