||Assessments of biodiversity status are needed to
track trends, and the IUCN Red List has become the accepted
global standard for documenting the extinction
risk of species. Obtaining robust data on population size is
an essential component of any assessment of a species� status,
including assessments for the IUCN Red List. Obtaining
such estimates is complicated by methodological and
logistical issues, which are more pronounced in the case of
cryptic species, such as the snow leopard Panthera uncia.
Estimates of the total population size of this species have,
to date, been based on little more than guesstimates, but a
comprehensive summary of recent field research indicates
that the conservation status of the snow leopard may be
less dire than previously thought. A revised categorization,
from Endangered to Vulnerable, on the IUCN Red List was
proposed but met some opposition, as did a recent, similar
recategorization of the giant panda Ailuropoda melanoleuca.
Possible factors motivating such attitudes are discussed.
Downlisting on the IUCN Red List indicates that the species
concerned is further from extinction, and is always to be
welcomed, whether resulting from successful conservation
intervention or improved knowledge of status and trends.
Celebrating success is important to reinforce the message
that conservation works, and to incentivize donors.