SAVE THE SNOW LEOPARD - PROTECT OUR LIFELINE | WWF India

Snow leopards are disappearing.
With less than 500 left in the wild in India, this magnificent cat could soon vanish for good.
But with your help – we can still save it.

When you help protect the snow leopard, you will also support conservation of the Himalayan ecosystem - which is the source of 3 mighty rivers & most of our fresh water on which life of millions of Indians depends.

 

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© Snow Leopard

WHY SHOULD WE PROTECT THE SNOW LEOPARD?

Healthy populations of snow leopards indicates good health of the ecosystem that it inhabits. In India, snow leopards are found high up in the Himalayas, the source of most of our fresh water and 3 perennial rivers – The Ganga, Yamuna & Brahmaputra, lifeline of 500 million Indians. It can be said that without the snow leopard, the Himalayan ecosystem will be negatively affected and this will impact the health of the rivers too - source of our fresh water - without which life as we know it, appears impossible to visualise.

“Snow leopard balances the Himalayan ecosystem, the source of our life giving rivers – The Ganga, Yamuna & Brahmaputra”

© Aishwaraya Maheshwari/WWF-India

HOW DOES SNOW LEOPARD HELP BALANCE THE HIMALAYAN ECOSYSTEM?

Snow leopards are top predators in their environment, and their prey includes Siberian ibex (Capra sibrica), blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), argali (Ovis ammon) and marmots (Marmota himalayana). Without the snow leopard, the ecological balance would be disrupted. For example – herbivore populations will increase resulting in changes in the vegetation, that will affect other wildlife and also disrupt the important ecosystem services.

© WWF-India

DOES SNOW LEOPARD CONSERVATION HELP THE LOCAL COMMUNITIES?

The Himalayan ecosystem provides food and other important resources for the many people who live there – including medicine, and wood for shelter, heat and fuel and grass for the livestock.

So, by protecting the snow leopard, it benefits the whole natural environment in these areas and the people who rely on it.

© Morte Koloby / WWF-US

WHAT IS THE GLOBAL POPULATION OF SNOW LEOPARDS AND WHERE ARE THEY FOUND?

It is estimated that the global population of snow leopard is around 4,000 individuals. Snow leopards live in extremely difficult terrain and the fact that only 5% of snow leopard habitat is actually surveyed for population assessments implies that there is a lot to learn about this elusive species.

Globally, snow leopards are sparsely distributed across 12 countries in Central Asia, from southern Russia down to the Tibetan plateau, including Mongolia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Nepal & India.

“Because of extremely difficult terrain, only 5% of the snow leopard habitat has been surveyed”

© WWF India

WHERE ARE SNOW LEOPARD FOUND IN INDIA?

Snow leopards are distributed across the 100,146 sq. km of snowy forests in five Himalayan states - Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim & Arunachal Pradesh.

Hemis National Park, Gangotri National Park, Khangchendzonga National park and Great Himalayan National Park are some protected areas where snow leopards are known to be found.

© Aishwarya Maheshwari/WWF-India

WHAT ARE THE MAJOR THREATS TO SNOW LEOPARDS?

Habitat loss, poaching and increasing conflict with communities have seen the world’s snow leopard population reduce drastically. Climate change is now putting the future of their mountain home at even greater risk.

However, WWF is working to address these threats. With your help, we can make a real difference.

© WWF India

WHY DOES HUMAN SNOW LEOPARD CONFLICT OCCUR?

High up in the Himalayas, where food and water resources are scarce, survival is an everyday battle for local communities. With agriculture possible only for a short period of four months in these cold desert regions, people depend heavily on raising cattle for their livelihood and any loss of livestock on account of snow leopard predation creates stress and often is the main cause of conflict.

© WWF India

WHAT IS WWF INDIA DOING TO PROTECT SNOW LEOPARDS?

Some specific interventions are:

  • Installation of predator proof livestock pens to reduce livestock loss and retaliatory killing of snow leopards

  • Keeping a pulse of snow leopard population using robust monitoring tools

  • Engaging local community, tourists & the Indian army to protect the snow leopard

  • Enhancing and diversifying the livelihood opportunities for local communities, so that they benefit from sharing space with snow leopards
© WWF India

WHAT CAN YOU DO TO SAVE THE SNOW LEOPARD?

There are small changes we can make right now in our everyday lives to protect nature & endangered wildlife. When we all come together to make these changes, they can make a big difference.

  • Be a responsible tourist – Don’t leave litter behind when you travel to the Himalayas. Plastic bottles, packaging wrappers cause havoc to the ecosystem and the wildlife that lives there

  • Don’t buy snow leopard products – snow leopards are poached for their beautiful fur; they are also killed for their bones & meat. Say NO and report to concerned authorities to help stop this heinous illegal trade

  • Spread the word – People do not know that presence of snow leopards is an indicator of the health of Himalayan ecosystem. Share your knowledge

  • Help support our work – Contribute to save this mysterious big cat. Support our work to help increase their chances of survival.
     
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10 INTERESTING FACTS ABOUT SNOW LEOPARDS

  1. Snow leopards are solitary creatures, and skillful predators, highly adapted to live to harsh and cold weather of the high Himalayas

  2. They are able to kill a prey up to three times their own weight in a challenging terrain

  3. Snow leopards do not roar, instead they mew, hiss & make a non-aggressive puffing sound called ‘chuff’

  4. Snow leopards use their long thick tail to balance, they also wrap their tail around to keep themselves warm

  5. Snow leopards have grey or green eyes, unusual for big cats

  6. Snow leopard cubs are born blind and they don’t gain sight till they’re 9-days-old

  7. Cubs get fully active once they are 2 months old and stay with their mother until they are 2-year-old

  8. Snow leopards have snow shoes – their wide, fur-covered paws act as natural shoes

  9. Snow leopards are known to leap six times their body length – up to 9 meters

  10. One blue sheep will provide snow leopard with food for one week

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