00:34 GMT +320 October 2017
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    Russia's snow leopard population declines by half

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    NOVOSIBIRSK, March 7 (RIA Novosti) - The number of snow leopards in Russia's southwestern Siberian Altai Republic has fallen from 40 in the late 1990s to 10-15, the director of the Gorny Altai nature preserve said on Friday.

    Russia has an estimated total of 100 large mountain cats, which are in the Red Book of Endangered Species.

    Sergei Spitsyn said the main reason is an insufficient number of forest rangers and rampant poaching, adding that local residents often see helicopters that are used for illegal hunting.

    Snow leopards are hunted for their skin, meat and bones, which are widely used in traditional Chinese medicine.

    Weighing usually 35 to 55 kilograms, the snow leopard is slightly smaller than a leopard. Exceptional large males can weigh up to 75 kg. The head and body length is 100 to 130 cm, and the shoulder height is about 60 cm.

    The total estimated wild snow leopard population is between 4,000 and 7,500. In addition, there are 600-700 animals in zoos around the world.

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