Snow Leopards

Snow leopards are elusive big cats that live in the mountains of Central Asia. Beautifully adapted to their remote and often extremely cold surroundings, these amazing cats are unfortunately endangered. The threats that they face include poaching, habitat degradation, climate change and retaliation killings carried out when snow leopards kill livestock belonging to local herdsman. This conflict has created an uncertain future for these beautiful cats. Despite national and international laws to protect them, snow leopards are still being killed for their pelts, skin and bones which are traded illegally.

Mining is a big threat to the snow leopard's habitat. The areas in which they live are rich in minerals, especially gold. However, local people, many of whom are farmers and herdsmen, want to preserve their way of life and are resisting the influx of the mining companies.



Up to 50kg




c.4,000 - 6,600


Mountains of Central Asia

Where in the world?

Snow leopards live in fragmented populations throughout the mountains of Central Asia in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan - a total area of 2 million sq km.


DSWF funds work to protect the snow leopard through research, monitoring and anti-poaching programmes and by engaging with local communities to ensure that they benefit directly from wildlife rather than persecuting it.

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DSWF is helping to turn a former hunting concession, where ibex were commercially hunted, into a co-managed nature reserve to help protect snow leopards in this important area.

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Beautiful and elusive, the snow leopard is perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of its high-altitude home which ranges from 1,000 to 4,500m above sea level.


Round, short ears reduce heat loss; wide, short nasal cavities heat the chilled air before it reaches their lungs; extra large paws stop them sinking into the snow and their long, thick tails help them balance and keep warm.


Snow leopards are usually solitary, except when females are raising cubs. Mating occurs in late winter and between 1 and 5 cubs (usually 2-3) are born 98-104 days later. The cubs will stay with their mother for 18-22 months.


These cats are most active at dawn and dusk. They may stay in an area for several days and then move many miles away.

Discover more about Snow Leopards

You can help save snow leopards by supporting the David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation's work either by fundraising as a school or an individual or entering our annual art and poetry competition. For more information you can download our animal fact sheets and posters too!

Photography courtesy of Dennis Conner, Chris Conn, SLT