‘Crazy’ snow leop­ard pro­posal laughed off

Waitaki Herald - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD

Farm­ers and tram­pers are laugh­ing off a pro­posal to launch snow leop­ards into the High Coun­try.

Hast­ings man Brian Daly has pe­ti­tioned the Min­istry for En­vi­ron­ment to cre­ate a sanc­tu­ary which will ‘‘pro­vide an eco­log­i­cal back up en­vi­ron­ment for the threat­ened Hi­malayan snow leop­ard and pro­vide an im­por­tant tourism ini­tia­tive where peo­ple can view them more eas­ily than in their na­tive en­vi­ron­ment’’.

The pe­ti­tion, which can be seen on change.org, has al­ready re­ceived more than 1400 sig­na­tures in sup­port, but not ev­ery­one thinks it is such a good idea.

Fed­er­ated Farm­ers’ en­vi­ron­ment spokesper­son Chris Allen said the idea, ‘‘with all due re­spect, is out­landish and just plain crazy. It’s a poorly thought out con­cept’’.

‘‘As a High Coun­try farmer you’d be wor­ried about your live­stock and your own wel­fare for that mat­ter, this would ac­tu­ally be­come a health and safety is­sue.

‘‘The truly worst case sce­nario for any farmer is a rogue an­i­mal on their prop­erty or nearby,’’ he said.

Fed­er­ated Moun­tain Clubs NZ pres­i­dent Pe­ter Wil­son said it was an ‘‘un­de­ni­ably in­ter­est­ing pro­posal’’.

‘‘I used to joke that to keep down the num­bers of peo­ple climb­ing in the High Coun­try they could al­ways in­tro­duce an in­va­sive species such as a griz­zly bear or snow leop­ard,’’ he said. ‘‘It’s good that some­one is tak­ing the idea se­ri­ously,’’ he joked.

A spokesman for the Depart­ment of Con­ser­va­tion was also not con­vinced by the pro­posal. ‘‘We have quite a few of our own vul­ner­a­ble species that are suf­fer­ing as a re­sult of mam­malian preda­tors be­ing in­tro­duced to New Zealand from other parts of the world,’’ he said.

Daly’s pe­ti­tion ex­plains the ini­tia­tive would be ‘‘adopted by a pri­vate land owner such as a High Coun­try sta­tion or neigh­bour­ing sta­tions that back up to the alps

‘‘It's a poorly thought out con­cept.’’

and would pro­vide a use­ful se­condary in­come to the re­gion while also pro­vid­ing a re­dun­dancy op­tion if the pop­u­la­tion in the Hi­malayas is dec­i­mated by peo­ple or dis­ease’’.

Snow leop­ards are found in 12 coun­tries—in­clud­ing China, Bhutan, Nepal, In­dia, Pak­istan, Afghanistan, Rus­sia, and Mon­go­lia — but the pop­u­la­tion is drop­ping ac­cord­ing to the World Wildlife Fund. It is es­ti­mated there are be­tween 4000 and 6000 in the wild.

Snow leop­ards are beau­ti­ful crea­tures, but prob­a­bly not suited to the High Coun­try. File photo.

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