‘Crazy’ snow leopard proposal laughed off
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.