Guardians of the Headwaters: Snow Leopards, Water Provision, and Climate Vulnerability
Maps and Analysis
Nikolai Sindorf, Jessica Forrest, Bernadette Arakwiye
This document contains maps and analysis of the key water services provided by snow leopard habitat to human populations, highlighting the most important “snow leopard headwaters.” Created by WWF through USAID funding, the document analyzes the vulnerability of these water sources and snow leopard habitat to climate change and other human and natural disturbances with information on appropriate management activities to maintain water security and snow leopards through the next millennium. Each analysis is presented as a map, followed by a description to aid in its interpretation and implications, methods and data used.
Snow leopard range is found in 12 countries (Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan) in northern Asia (spanning the Tibetan Plateau and the Himalayan, Tian Shan and Altai mountain ranges), though the animals are sparsely distributed. Listed as Endangered on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List, the greatest current threats to the species are hunting for its pelts, depletion of its natural prey base from hunting (by humans) or competition with livestock, and retaliatory killing by humans for livestock depredation. Anticipated climate change threats include potential changes in grassland communities towards less palatable species for prey and livestock, melting permafrost, increased suitability for cropland and shifting treeline.
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