Over 100,000 people have signed an online petition calling for the US to bring a trophy hunter to justice after a picture of him with the body of a rare snow leopard emerged. The man in the image is reportedly Hossein Golabchi.
According to the petition, set up by TERA Internation: "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." the petition says, going on to describe Golabchi as a "long-time and prolific trophy hunter of rare cats" and saying he "must be made an example of or these magnificent cats will vanish forever."
The petition was launched on International Snow Leopard Day, 23 October, and has garnered over 116,000 signatures in the last two weeks.
In a more recent update, TERA wrote: "We've been contacted with concerns that the hunt may have happened too long ago to be prosecutable. To our knowledge there is no statue of limitations on international wildlife crime nor do we believe that there was just one snow leopard brutally destroyed." They also said that Golabchi had described the snow leopard hunt in a book.
From Amazon, that book appears to be from 2008. According to the Mail Online, Golabchi owns a construction company in the US state of Georgia and is originally from Iran. He is also reported to have been the recipient of awards for his hunting.
The Snow Leopard Trust told IBTimes UK that they had been monitoring the case for some time and we still trying to gather the facts. According to them, Golabchi says the hunt occured in Mongolia during the 1980s, "which would make it at least possible that it was legal," a spokesperson said.
Golabchi also says that he exported the pelt to Mexico, which was not a part of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species at the time, but that the exort occured through Germany, which was.
"What's perhaps more important is that it's illegal today to shoot a snow leopard anywhere, as it is to trade snow leopard parts," the spokesperson said.
Snow leopards, or Pathera Uncia, only recently moved from the 'endangered' category to 'vulnerable', according to the IUCN Red List. "The Snow Leopard is assessed as Vulnerable because the global population is estimated to number more than 2,500 but fewer than 10,000 mature individuals," the IUCN wrote on their website.