This remarkable species plays a key role as both top predator and an indicator of the health of its high altitude habitat. If snow leopards thrive so will countless other species, as well as the millions of people whose livelihoods depend on the rivers flowing down from Central Asia’s mountains.
Snow leopards are solitary and elusive creatures that usually hunt at dawn and dusk. They’re stealthy predators, able to kill prey up to three times their own weight. Snow leopards’ favoured prey are herbivores, such as blue sheep, Argali sheep and ibex. But in many areas, snow leopards also prey on livestock, bringing them into conflict with herders.
Indeed, snow leopard habitats provides important resources for local communities – from food and medicine to grazing for livestock, and wood for shelter, heat and fuel, as well as water sources for millions of people downstream.