Celebrating 15 Years of Groundbreaking Science

Thanks to your support of our Long-term Ecological Study, (the first of its kind for snow leopards!), we are building a more comprehensive understanding of snow leopard ecology and behavior. This vital research provides insight into the threats they face and guides conservation policies to ensure the snow leopard's future. Today, we know more about what these endangered animals need to survive and thrive than ever before.

The science you support protects snow leopards! Every research finding, be it on disease risks, home range size, diet, livestock depredation, dispersal, etc., helps inform conservation policy. Below are just a few of our more significant learnings.

Conserving Habitat

Through GPS tracking, we’ve found that snow leopards use significantly larger home ranges than previously believed, which means existing protected areas are too small to support viable populations. Our work with snow leopard country governments through the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection program has resulted in a commitment to protecting a quarter of the global snow leopard habitat and promoting human-snow leopard coexistence across 23 mountainous landscapes.

Preserving Genetic Diversity

Data from our long-term study indicate that the biggest threat to genetic exchange between snow leopard populations is posed by border fences and other infrastructure that can fragment populations. A recent paper by Snow Leopard Trust scientists shows that even though snow leopards do not settle in flat steppe habitats, these areas can serve as important travel corridors that connect populations. Understanding how landscapes affect animal movements is critical to advocating for conservation of these important corridors and improving genetic diversity.

Identifying Risks & Solutions

Compared to other big cats, our findings show that snow leopards are uniquely vulnerable because females don’t typically reproduce until the relatively late age of 3-4 years and only give birth at two-year intervals. This means that the small populations of snow leopards, occurring at low densities, could be more susceptible to catastrophic declines. Reduced prey density, disease or intensified poaching, can therefore pose much greater extinction risks to snow leopards than previously thought. The more we understand about these vulnerabilities the better we can shape conservation efforts to protect this magnificent cat.

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Below are just a few of the research papers our teams have published in international peer-reviewed journals. These publications provide insights into snow leopard ecology, genetics, habitat suitability, disease risks, conservation strategies, climate change impacts, human societies and community conservation initiatives across the major mountain ranges of Asia.

Increasing risks for emerging infectious diseases within a rapidly changing High Asia

Guidelines for telemetry studies on snow leopards

Detection and genetic characterization of viruses present in free-ranging snow leopards using next-generation sequencing

Keeping predators out: testing fences as a means to reduce livestock depredation at night-time corrals

Health and zoonotic infections of snow leopards Panthera uncia in the South Gobi desert of Mongolia. 

Identification errors in camera-trap studies result in systematic population overestimation. 

The timing of breeding and independence for snow leopard females and their cubs. 

Natal dispersal and exploratory forays through atypical habitat in the mountain-bound snow leopard

Photo credit: Prasenjeet Yadav

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