More than 114,000 people have signed a petition to bring a US trophy hunter to justice after he shot and killed a rare snow leopard and was pictured with the body slung over his shoulders.
The image shows a smiling Hossein ‘Soudy’ Golabchi, who is originally from Iran, brandishing the corpse of the dead animal, which he killed in central Asia at some point before 2008.
A petition was started by TERA International, an organization that devoted to protecting endangered animals, who insist it is not too late to prosecute Golabchi for killing the creature at a point in time where it was classed as endangered.
Wealthy Golbachi owns the highly successful Golmar Construction and Development Co. of Augusta, Georgia and started hunting in his home country at the age of 16.
MailOnline has contacted Golbachi for further comment.
The petition states: ‘There’s nowhere in the entire Western hemisphere (and the rest of the world) that allows anyone to go into Central Asia to “trophy hunt” a snow leopard.
‘It is illegal to own their body parts or their beautiful fur and importing their remains into the United States is a federal offense.
‘This long-time and prolific trophy hunter of rare cats must be made an example of or these magnificent cats will vanish forever.’
Trophy killing of snow leopards is not legal in any of the countries they inhabit, however Golbachi wrote about the kill in a 2008 book Obsessed! Hunting Mountain Game In North America, Asia And Around The World.
He’s also been honoured by the Grand Slam Club/Ovis an organisation of hunters and conservationists ‘dedicated to improving and perpetuating wild sheep and goat populations worldwide, as well as North American big game’.
In 2003, he won its second annual award for being an accomplished sheep hunter, and according to the organisation, he has a museum and trophy room containing ‘well over 400 wild animals of the world, representing over 225 different species’.
The organisation described the hunter as a ‘tremendous conservationist’.
Classed as endangered in 1972, the status of the snow leopard was downgraded to ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature last year, meaning there are fewer than 10,000 breeding animals left in the wild.
The animals still face serious challenges including poaching and loss of prey in their mountainous habitat stretching across 12 nations.
According to the Snow Leopard trust, there may only be between 3,920 and 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild, but they are hard to track because of the terrain they live in and their shy nature.
Hundreds of snow leopards are killed every year according to Traffic, the wildlife trade monitoring network.
More than half are killed by farmers in retaliation for attacks on livestock, while 20 per cent are trapped in snares set for other animals.
Twenty per cent are killed specifically for the illegal fur trade, although pelts from animals killed for other reasons are often sold on too.
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