3,500 - 7,000
Snow leopards are arguably one of the most striking of the big cat family. They make their home in the high mountains of central Asia, thinly dispersed across 12 countries.
As they are extremely elusive, and make their home in such a remote part of the world, very little is known about snow leopards. For this reason they are very difficult to count however there are suspected to be between 3,500 - 7,000 left in the wild.
The snow leopard population is thought to be in decline, with human activity appearing to be the main reason why. Snow leopards are the apex predator in their habitat; therefore, they serve a very important role of maintaining ecological balance.
Habitat loss (for farming, urban development, mining).
Illegal wildlife trade (poached for fur products and traditional medicine).
Poaching of the snow leopard's natural prey.
Human-snow leopard conflict (resulting from snow leopards eating farmers' livestock due to a lack of natural prey).
To find out in more detail about the threats they face, go the Snow Leopard Trust's page here.
WHAT CAN WE DO?
As a species in decline, it's safe to say action is needed to ensure a future for snow leopards in the wild. Below, we've come up with ways in which we can turn this around:
The first and most obvious is to donate to conservation efforts. This is the best thing you can do to help secure a future for snow leopards. The threats they face can be complicated issues, for example, it's suspected that over half of snow leopard killings are due to human-wildlife conflict issues. This happens because snow leopards' prey is in decline and so instead they feed on the livestock of local communities. Losses like this can cause a devastating impact on these communities, who are often economically disadvantaged, and so the people will kill snow leopards to protect their livelihood. There are plenty of organisations carrying out essential work to unravel these problems. Scroll down to the bottom of this page to find the organisations which we recommend.
Signing petitions is another great way to bring about positive change. Scroll down to the next section to find online petitions, which we recommend signing to help protect snow leopards.
TOP TIP: Climate change is already having an impact on snow leopard territory. Changing temperatures are causing a loss of suitable habitat for the snow leopard, a habitat which is already shrinking due to other human activity. A brilliant way to help is to take action to help prevent climate change. Have a look at our page here if you wish to find out individual ways of how to do so.
The most adventurous way to help may be to travel to central Asia, in an attempt to see snow leopards in the wild. Going on a snow leopard spotting trek is a great way of letting the government of that country know that protecting its wildlife is important. It's also a great way to learn more about snow leopard conservation. You could go an extra step and carry out a volunteering experience, in which you'll directly contribute to snow leopard conservation. Find out more in the 'Conservation Tourism' section below.
If travelling to Asia doesn't appeal, or isn't a realistic option for you, then many places around the world keep snow leopards in captivity. It's important to know that although it's exciting to see wild animals up close, their well-being in a cage is certainly questionable. If you really want to see a snow leopard in captivity then our guidance would be that with that desire to see one, you also have the desire to learn more about how we can protect them in the wild. Using advice from this page, or that you learn elsewhere, we encourage you to take some action to protect wild snow leopards. If you want to visit a snow leopard in captivity then we recommend that you do your research beforehand and choose somewhere that is supporting snow leopard conservation with its profits.
Another way to help is to shop for products which support snow leopard conservation:
Our founder, Chad Killoran, has a website selling prints of his paintings. If you're interested you could buy a print of his snow leopard painting, shown below, and a percentage of the profit goes towards the Snow Leopard Trust.
The Snow Leopard Trust's online shop sells t-shirts, mugs, tote bags, reusable bottles, serviettes, jewellery and greeting cards.
Snow Leopard Vodka sells vodka around the world and 15% of the profits go towards the Snow Leopard Trust.
If you shop with Amazon then you could use AmazonSmile. It's the same as Amazon only when you shop they donate a percentage of the profit to a charity you choose, at no extra cost to you! If you're based in the United Kingdom, you could go to the UK site and select the WWF UK as your chosen charity. If you're based in the US, you could go to the US site and choose Snow Leopard Trust, Snow Leopard Conservancy or Panthera as your chosen charity.
Volunteering where you live is a brilliant way to contribute to snow leopard conservation. By donating some of your time, skill and passion, you could help spread the word about snow leopards and create a brighter future for these incredible big cats. Find out more on the Snow Leopard Trust's website.
Education is another great way to help. The Snow Leopard Trust has put together a snow leopard lesson plan for teachers, which includes a lot of fun activities for the whole class and some really interesting facts about snow leopards. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org to find out more
One of the best ways to help is to spread the word about this page, and what you've learnt about the challenges facing snow leopards. Awareness is the first step towards solving any problem!
Signing the following petitions is a great way to bring about positive change for wild snow leopards:
Snow Leopard Trust's petition is calling on leaders from snow leopard range countries to strengthen conservation efforts and minimize disease transmission between wildlife and people.
The Rainforest Site's petition is appealing to the UNFCCC to show how important preventing climate change and protecting snow leopard habitat is to people.
#EndTheTrade Coalition's petition is calling on our world’s governments to permanently end the commercial trade and sale in markets of wild terrestrial animals worldwide.
Rainforest Rescue's petition is urging the Chinese government to shut down its wildlife markets.
Global Deal for Nature's petition is appealing to world leaders to protect 50% of our lands and oceans.
INDIA: Snow Leopard Conservancy, India Trust is an Indian snow leopard conservation NGO. If you're feeling adventurous, a brilliant way to help in snow leopard conservation is to volunteer with SLC-IT in the breathtaking Himalayan Mountains of Ladakh, home to the snow leopard. Projects are carried out throughout the year and include community homestay development, handicraft development, environmental education, camera trapping, surveying prey species and mapping of snow leopard habitat.
BHUTAN & INDIA: Snow Leopard Conservancy is a non-profit organisation based in California and India, which focuses on snow leopard conservation. They organise conservation treks in the mountains of Bhutan and India. To find out more go to their website and on their menu select 'Make a Difference' followed by 'Go Trekking'.
PAKISTAN: Snow Leopard Foundation is a snow leopard conservation organisation based in Pakistan. They are working on a conservation tourism program for snow leopard protection. Email them at email@example.com or go to their website to find out more.
As snow leopard habitat ranges across 12 countries, conservation of snow leopards in turn also helps many other species. The following organisations are carrying out essential work to protect snow leopards:
The Snow Leopard Foundation is dedicated to conserving viable populations of snow leopards, and other wild carnivores, as an integral part of landscapes across Pakistan.
The Snow Leopard Conservancy, India Trust is dedicated to promoting innovative grassroots measures that lead local people to become better stewards of endangered snow leopards, their prey, and habitat in India's Ladakh Himalayas.
The Snow Leopard Trust aims to protect snow leopards through community-based conservation projects that are based on an improved scientific understanding of snow leopard behaviour, needs, habitats and threats.
The Snow Leopard Conservancy works to advance community-based stewardship of the snow leopard through education, research and grassroots conservation action.
Panthera is dedicated to protecting all species of big cats. With their Snow Leopard Program, they are collecting data to better understand snow leopards and how best to protect them. Donations here will less directly benefit snow leopards, as donations go towards a wide range of brilliant projects that improve conditions for all wild big cats around the world. An ideal organisation to donate towards if you love all big cats but can't decide which you want to support!
If you know of any more ways in which we can create a better future for snow leopards, then please get in contact with your suggestions!