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Do Not Touch Snow Leopards!

When I first visited the Paleontology Museum I was shocked by something, and these were not even the remnants of prehistoric animals that died many thousand years ago, but rather the fact that lots of species vanished from the earth in the last millennium, when the mankind seemed to enter its conscious stage of development. Are we more developed now if we go on killing rare animals and not for the sake of saving our own life but just for fun or for lucre?

One can be very eloquent while sitting in front of the computer and observing the reports on the miserable conditions Mother Nature suffers nowadays. One can loudly call for nature protection and weep for the miserable innocent creatures killed for nothing Is it of any help?

Extinction of snow leopards in Russia today is just a small drop among the lamentable problems of nature. Yet it can not be a trifle. It is a revealing example.

One of the Russian TV channels has recently showed a news report about the poaching of snow leopards, these beautiful animals that are on the brink of vanishing now. A reporter with a hidden camera talked to one of the local poachers in Mountain Altai. I will pay you well, - said the false customer. No problem, Ill get you a leopard answered the native. Thats how simple it is. Rich customers want marvelous skins of leopards and the local hunters need money.

Snow leopard is a very cautious beast inhabiting mountainous places difficult of access. As for Russian territories the snow leopard can be found in Altai and Krasnoyarsk regions as well as in Tuva.

In Altai they have counted around 150 leopards. However it is impossible to know the exact figure as the animals hide in the mountains where a man can hardly get to. To observe the ounces scientists have to trace indirect signs of them, such as their snow tracks and droppings.

Poachers are much more persistent in searching for ounces: days and nights they ransack the mountains and make tramps to hunt down a leopard. The game is worth the candle. In Tuva the skin of the wild cat from the Red Book can be bought for $ 300 while beyond this region the price goes up to a thousand bucks and abroad the figure multiplies to dozens of thousand dollars. The red book beast is much in demand; the market is well set. To transport the illegal goods the criminals often use double-bottomed cars. The Russian-Mongolian frontier is not a serious obstacle for smugglers. In Mongolia there also live snow leopards so the hunting and the trade run brisk.

What savage craving or primitive pride make people want to get hold of a skin of a dead beast, I wonder?

Do you remember the scene from Ace Ventura: When Nature Calls: Jim Carry thrashes an old boy-friend of a lady wearing furs and throws the fainted body of the enemy on his shoulders like a leopard skin? The brightest moment of that foolish movie, I dare say.

June 6, 2006

June 6, 2006 16:40





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