Posted on 20 December 2019
WWF statement in response to the uplisting of the Indochinese Leopard as “Critically Endangered” in the IUCN Red List
The Indochinese Leopard, a subspecies of the leopard occurring in Southeast Asia, is now critically endangered
, according to the IUCN Red List update published on December 10, 2019. The new assessment of the subspecies found that the leopard population has declined by over 80% across its historical range during the past two decades, largely due to indiscriminate snaring and poaching.
“WWF is deeply concerned by the decline in the Indochinese Leopard population. It is critical for the governments in the region to take action – we have a collective responsibility to ensure the remaining populations do not go extinct,” said Dr. A. Christy Williams, Regional Director for WWF International’s Asia Pacific Regional Office.
The new listing of the Indochinese Leopard as critically endangered is based on an assessment conducted by conservation and research organizations Panthera and WildCRU of Oxford University in July 2019. It incorporates research done by WWF in the Eastern Plains Landscape in Cambodia, as well as research and conservation work conducted by other organizations which documents the probable extinction of the leopard in Laos
, and their near-extinction in Cambodia
As with the population declines of many other endangered species in Southeast Asia, the main culprit in the decline of the leopard population is snaring that is taking place in forests across the region. This snaring crisis is leading to an unprecedented and rapid defaunation (reduction in abundance and local extinction of a species) of wildlife from the forests of Southeast Asia, and is a greater threat to wildlife than forest degradation
“Snaring is emptying the forests of Southeast Asia, with many wildlife populations already locally extinct or on the verge of going extinct,” said Dr. K. Yoganand, Regional Lead for Wildlife and Wildlife Crime for WWF Greater Mekong. “To save the Indochinese Leopard from extinction, governments must invest money and human resources into protecting forest habitats, removing snares, and bringing illegal wildlife traders to justice for their crimes.”
This apex predator once ranged widely across Southeast Asia and southeastern China, but now occurs in only a small fraction (about 2%–6%) of its historical distribution, in particular limited to 5% of Thailand and 15% of its historical range in Myanmar. Peninsular Malaysia is still identified as a stronghold, with 36% of the area still estimated to contain leopards.
The IUCN Red List
, which is a comprehensive source on the conservation status of animals, fungi and plant species worldwide, was recently updated with many new status assessments of species and reassessments of previously listed species. Unfortunately, a majority of the species listed showed a severe decline in conservation status, including the Indochinese Leopard
and the Philippine Pangolin