'Extremely foolhardy' snow leopard sanctuary won't happen

A snow leopard in the snow.
A snow leopard in the snow. Photo credit: Getty

A proposed snow leopard sanctuary will never see the light of day.

Hastings man Brian Daly is petitioning to build a facility in the Southern Alps for the threatened species.

He says it would provide "an important tourism initiative where people can view them more easily than in their native environment".

Snow leopards are endemic to central and south Asia. Mr Daly says introducing them here could keep the local Tahr population in check without the Department of Conservation having to pay.

"Each animal would be tagged and tracked so that tourists could be helicoptered to positions to view them. This would be the only naturally living population of snow leopard outside of the Himalayas."

But the Ministry for the Environment says it will be unworkable, and does not plan to look into it any further. A spokesperson said the ministry was not aware of the petition until recently.

The ministry says it is focused on protecting New Zealand's own endangered species.

Animal behaviour expert Associate Professor Ximena Nelson of the Universtiy of Canterbury said it was an "extremely foolhardy" idea.

It's estimated there are only 4000 snow leopards left in the wild.

Newshub.