With as few as around 4,000-6,500 left in the wild and facing increasing threats, snow leopards are in danger.
The mountain sheep and goats that they prey on are declining in some parts of the snow leopard range too, because of illegal hunting and competition for grazing land from livestock. With livestock outnumbering wild prey species by 10 to 1 in some areas, it’s hardly surprising that snow leopards sometimes kill livestock instead.
But that’s no consolation to local people, who rely on their livestock for food and income – a snow leopard attack is a real threat to their livelihoods. As a result, snow leopards are sometimes killed in retaliation.
We’re working with communities in the high mountains of the Kangchenjunga Conservation Area in Nepal to help manage and reduce conflict between snow leopards and people. For example, we've supported community-based livestock insurance schemes that provide financial relief to farmers who lose livestock to snow leopards. These communities also monitor snow leopards and blue sheep, with initial training and support.
This has brought about a positive change in attitude and a real interest towards snow leopards: farmers with insurance know they'll get some financial support, which helps them to see snow leopards as less of a threat to their livelihoods.
In Kangchenjunga Conservation Area, there has been no record of retaliatory killing of snow leopards for many years, and snow leopard populations are stable. And local people are increasingly becoming allies in snow leopard conservation.