Biodiversity Science ›› 2019, Vol. 27 ›› Issue (9): 932-942.doi: 10.17520/biods.2019026

• Special Feature: Snow Leopards: Survey, Research and Conservation Status in China • Previous Article     Next Article

Ongoing threats and the current status of snow leopard conservation in China

Xiaoyu Li1, #, Lingyun Xiao1, #, Xuchang Liang2, Chen Cheng1, Chen Feng3, Xiang Zhao3, Yanlin Liu4, Xiaoxing Bian2, Bing He5, Changzhi Zhang5, Justine Shanti Alexander6, Rui Xing7, Yahui Huang7, Awangjiumei 8, Xierannima 9, Dazhao Song4, Qiaowen Huang4, 10, Kui Peng11, Hang Yin12, Xinming Lian13, Xin Yang14, Sheng Li1, Xiaogang Shi15, Chuangming Yang16, Zhi Lü1, *()   

  1. 1 College of Life Sciences, Peking University, Beijing 100871
    2 Wildlife Conservation Society, Beijing 100101
    3 Shan Shui Conservation Center, Beijing 100871
    4 Chinese Felid Conversation Alliance, Beijing 101121
    5 World Wide Fund for Nature, Beijing 100037
    6 Snow Leopard Trust, Seattle WA 98103, USA
    7 Wild Xinjiang, Urumqi 830000
    8 Plateau Nature Conservancy, Xining 810012
    9 People’s Government of Suojia Township, Zhiduo County, Yushu, Qinghai 815400
    10 Nyanpo Yutse Conservation Association, Golog, Qinghai 624700
    11 Global Environmental Institute, Beijing 100600
    12 Gangri Neichog Research and Conservation Center, Xining 810007
    13 Northwest Institute of Plateau Biology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xining 810008
    14 Greenriver Environmental Protection Association of Sichuan Province, Chengdu 610041
    15 Wolong National Nature Reserve, Wenchuan, Sichuan 623006
    16 Gongga Mountain National Nature Reserve, Garzê, Sichuan 626000
  • Received:2019-01-31 Accepted:2019-08-31 Online:2019-09-25
  • Xiaoyu Li,Lingyun Xiao,Zhi Lü

When working with widespread large carnivores, most conservation organizations can only perform direct conservation actions for a specific population, but the extinction risk of a species is evaluated at a global scale. Here, we aim to bridge this impact gap by assessing the work and opinions from many organizations. We combines knowledge from scientific literature with the observations of 24 front-line staff working at 18 Chinese snow leopard research and conservation organizations. Through attending two group-meetings and by filling in threat-scoring spreadsheets, we identified 21 threats and ranked them at both the national and provincial levels. The five main snow leopard distribution provinces are Qinghai, Tibet, Xinjiang, Sichuan and Gansu. Also, we analyzed 17 conservation actions conducted by these conservation organizations, as well as the threats these actions attempted to address. The top three threats in China are the insufficient capacity of local conservation departments (9.5 points), climate change (8.0 points), and the lack of conservation incentive among local communities (6.8 points), although large differences exist between provinces. There is currently no action being taken in response to climate change. Although some conservation actions have addressed the insufficient capacity of local conservation departments and the lack of conservation awareness in local communities, such as by building up the capacity of conservation areas and monitoring by communities, respectively, the spatial coverage of these actions is still far from sufficient.

Key words: snow leopard, China, threat assessment, expert opinion, conservation actions

Table 1

Threat to snow leopard in China"

Category of threat
Direct killing or
capture of snow leopards
In retribution for livestock depredation (RLD)
1.1 Oli et al, 1994; Xu et al, 2008; Li et al, 2013; Alexander et al, 2015; Chen et al, 2016; Wild Xinjiang
Poaching for illegal trade (PIT)
1.2 Zhang, 1985; Schaller et al, 1988; Liu, 1993; EIA, 2008, 2012; Peng, 2009; Ma, 2012; Li & Lü, 2014; Maheshwari & Niraj, 2018
Zoo and museum collection of live animals (ZMC)
1.3 Ma, 2012; Shan Shui Conservation Center
Secondary poisoning and trapping (SPT)
1.4 Li et al, 2013; Shan Shui Conservation Center
雪豹疾病 Diseases of snow leopards (DSL) 1.5 Fix et al, 1989; Silinski et al, 2003; An, 2016; Ostrowski & Gilbert, 2016; Shan Shui Conservation Center
Threat about habitats and preys
栖息地退化 Habitat degradation (HD) 2.1 Brown, 2008; Harris, 2010; Wang et al, 2015
栖息地破碎化 Habitat fragmentation (HF) 2.2 World Wide Fund for Nature; Xu et al, 2008; Li, 2012; Wild Xinjiang
Prey reduction due to poaching and mistaken killing (PRPMK)
2.3 Schaller et al, 1988; Shan Shui Conservation Center
Prey reduction due to competition with livestock (PRCL)
2.4 Mishra et al, 2004; Suryawanshi et al, 2010; Xiao, 2017; Wild Xinjiang
猎物疾病 Diseases of prey (DP) 2.5 Fedosenko & Blank, 2001; Dagleish et al, 2007; Wang et al, 2009; Bao et al, 2011; Ostrowski et al, 2011; Ostrowski & Gilbert, 2016; Wild Xinjiang
Threat about policy
and cognition
Improper policy due to lack of cognition (IP)
3.1 Li et al, 2017
Ineffective implementation of policies (IIP)
3.2 Mishra et al, 2003; Chen et al, 2016; Shan Shui Conservation Center
Lack of trans-boundary cooperation (LTC)
3.3 -
Insufficient capacity of local conservation departments (ICLCD)
3.4 -
Lack of conservation incentive among local communities (LCILC)
3.5 -
Indirect threat
气候变化 Climate change (CC) 4.1 IPCC, 2007; Klein et al, 2007; Xue et al, 2009; Vince, 2010; Yu et al, 2010; Forrest et al, 2012; Lovari et al, 2013; Yao et al, 2013; Luo et al, 2015; Aryal et al, 2016; Lehnert et al, 2016; Li et al, 2016; Yang et al, 2018
Human population growth and poverty (HPGP)
4.2 Mishra et al, 2001, 2003; Adams et al, 2004; McShane & Wells, 2004
Stray dogs attack snow leopards and their prey (SDA)
4.3 Wandeler et al, 1993; Butler et al, 2004; Mingyu Liu (Peking University)
Interference caused by cordyceps/herb collection (ICCC)
4.4 Shan Shui Conservation Center
Road construction and tourism development projects (RCTD)
4.5 Wild Xinjiang; Wolong National Nature Reserve
Mineral exploration and hydropower development (MEHD)
4.6 Wingard & Zahler, 2006; Baker et al, 2010; Jackson et al, 2013

Fig. 1

Rankings of threats to snow leopard at national and provincial level. RLD, In retribution for livestock depredation; PIT, Poaching for illegal trade; ZMC, Zoo and museum collection of live animals; SPT, Secondary poisoning and trapping of snow leopards; DSL, Diseases of snow leopards; HD, Habitat degradation; HF, Habitat fragmentation; PRPMK, Prey reduction due to poaching and mistaken killing; PRCL, Prey reduction due to competition with livestock; DP, Diseases of prey; IP, Improper policy due to lack of cognition; IIP, Ineffective implementation of policies; LTC, Lack of trans-boundary cooperation; ICLCD, Insufficient capacity of local conservation departments; LCILC, Lack of conservation incentive among local communities; CC, Climate change; HPGP, Human population growth and poverty; SDA, Stray dogs attack snow leopards and their prey; ICCC, Interference caused by cordyceps/herb collection; RCTD, Road construction and tourism development projects; MEHD, Mineral exploration and hydropower development."

Table 2

Protective actions and corresponding threat at national and provincial level (Mean of the numbers are shown in Table 1)"

Protective actions
Corresponding threat
保护地建设<BR/>Development of nature reserves 保护区监测与反盗猎巡护
Monitoring in conservation area and anti-poaching patrol
1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.3
保护区能力建设 Capacity building of conservation area 3.4
建立新保护地 Establishing new conservation areas 2.1, 2.2, 3.3, 4.5, 4.6
在地保护行动<BR/>Local protective actions 人兽冲突补偿/保险
Compensation/insurance for human-wildlife conflict
1.1, 1.4, 3.1, 4.2
Poverty alleviation/livelihood improvement
1.1, 1.4, 2.1, 2.4, 3.5, 4.2
Community/citizen volunteer monitoring and anti-poaching patrol
1.1, 1.2, 1.3, 1.4, 2.3, 3.4, 3.5
放牧管理 Grazing management 2.1, 2.4
家畜疫病防治 Livestock disease prevention 2.5
拆除围栏 Fence removal 2.1, 2.2
流浪狗管理 Stray dogs ??management 1.5, 4.3
虫草/药草采集管理 Cordyceps/herb collection management 4.4
社区宣传教育 Community education 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 2.3, 3.2, 3.4, 3.5,4.4
政策与公众推动<BR/>Policy and public promotion 制定保护规划 Protection planning 3.1, 3.2
生态补偿 Ecological compensation 2.1, 2.4, 3.4, 3.5, 4.2
管理开发/发展类项目 Management of development projects 2.1, 2.2, 4.5, 4.6
政策建议 Policy suggestion 3.1, 3.2
公众宣传 Publicity 1.2, 3.1

Fig. 2

Global key landscape of snow leopard, national protected area and snow leopard distribution map"

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