Snow Leopards

Snow Leopards in Mongolia

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.

The snow leopard is an elusive member of the big cat family living in the remote mountain ranges of central Asia. It is now endangered with experts estimating that numbers in the wild are as low as 3,500-6,500. They are killed by local herdsmen to protect their flocks and their fur and body parts are sold to the fur and traditional Chinese medicine trades.

DSWF supports the work of the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) which was set up to research and save these animals from the brink of extinction while developing management plans for their future conservation.

Monitoring and research

We fund a long-term monitoring project that is gathering comprehensive information to enable scientists to understand and help protect these endangered cats known as the ghost of the mountains. GPS tracking collars help scientists understand how snow leopards move around the landscape and research cameras provide a wealth of knowledge about their location and behaviour. Using this information and relating it to specific snow leopards, it is possible to pinpoint areas in greatest need of conservation within Mongolia.

Creating protected areas

In April 2016, DSWF funding helped create the first Nature Reserve specifically for snow leopards. Situated in the Tost Mountains in Mongolia’s South Gobi the reserve is a bridge between two existing Protected Areas and has created one of the world’s largest continuous protected snow leopard habitats. This is a huge step forward for snow leopard protection in this part of its range.

Working with communities

Many families who live in the remote regions of Mongolia where snow leopards are found live on under $2 per day. The loss of even a single animal from their herd can create financial hardship and retaliation against the snow leopard as a result of any livestock killings. To combat this, DSWF supports a handicraft programme that provides training, micro-credit loans and logistical support to over 300 families to create and sell fine handmade wool crafts. Shipped and sold overseas in aid of the snow leopard, this flagship programme has been supported by DSWF since the 1990s and is one of the largest grassroots snow leopard conservation projects in Mongolia.

DSWF also supports the provision of incentives; herders agree to stop poaching and illegally killing snow leopards and prey species within their community and at the end of the year, participants receive a 30% conservation bonus if no-one in their region has violated this contract.

You can support this work by clicking the donate button today.

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Header image: Roberto Isotti – Photo above: SLT

Did you know?

Snow leopards long tails help with balance and keeping them warm