About Snow Leopards

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is one of the most enigmatic and least understood of the big cats. The snow leopard’s range spans 12 countries and 2 million km2 in Asia, with 50% of their habitat found in China alone. We protect snow leopards by conducting surveys, training national biologists in conservation techniques, assessing threats, securing their habitat, reducing conflict between snow leopards and local communities.

Hard to Find

Snow leopards are incredibly elusive and difficult to study.

© Sebastian Kennerknecht

Home is Where the Habitat Is

Over half of the snow leopard’s habitat is found in China.

Shan Shui/Panthera/SLT

Cuddly Cats

Snow leopards have the densest and longest fur of all the big cats.

© Sebastian Kennerknecht

Population Dwindling

There are likely only between 4,500 and 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild today.

© Panthera/Kaiberen/NCMRD/SAEF/NAS/UW

Our Goals

Stabilize and recover snow leopard populations

Understand and maintain habitat connectivity across its range

Provide foundational knowledge to inform conservation action
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countries where we work to study and protect snow leopards

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snow leopards protected each year in Ladakh, India, through building corrals

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families benefiting directly and 550 indirectly from the tourist homestay program 

Our Impact

Where Do Snow Leopards Live?

The snow leopard lives in extreme mountainous habitats, usually thousands of meters above sea level. Their range spans 12 countries and 2 million km2 in Asia, with 50% of their habitat found in China alone. 

  • Historic Snow Leopard Range
  • Current Snow Leopard Range
map of the snow leopard's range

Snow Leopard FAQs

Question

What do snow leopards eat and how do they hunt?

Answer

Snow leopards prey on various mountain ungulates such as ibex and sheep as well as smaller prey like marmots and other rodents. They wait in strategic sites until prey is spotted before stalking and attacking, often chasing prey across perilously steep slopes and sometimes falling. Falling off cliffs while hunting may be one of the leading natural causes of death in wild snow leopards.

Question

Why do snow leopards have such long tails?

Answer

Snow leopards live in mountainous terrain and use their long tails for balance and agility on the steep, rocky slopes where they live, hunt and raise their young. Additionally, they can use them for extra warmth when sleeping.

Question

How are snow leopards related to leopards?

Answer

Despite sharing a name with leopards, snow leopards are actually most closely related to tigers.

Question

What are the threats facing snow leopards?

Answer

Human persecution is a primary threat to snow leopards’ survival. Snow leopards are frequently captured or killed by humans in retaliation for — or to prevent — attacks on livestock. These snow leopards, dead or alive, are often then sold into the illegal wildlife trade, another major threat to snow leopards. They also suffer from decreasing prey availability linked to livestock overgrazing and poorly managed prey hunting.

Ensure their tomorrow with your gift today.

© Nitish Madan