Conservation issues

Habitat and prey loss

As humans continue to push further into the mountainous areas with their livestock, the snow leopards’ habitat is getting boxed in, degraded and fragmented by increasing human intrusion. Overgrazing has damaged the fragile high altitude grasslands, leaving less food for the wild sheep and goats that are the snow leopard’s main prey. Such increasing loss of its natural prey, which is also partly due to hunting for meat, is a major threat for the long-term survival of snow leopards.

Retribution killings

With less natural prey to feed on and growing numbers of domestic animals being grazed in their hunting territories, snow leopards have increasingly adapted to prey on livestock. This brings them into conflict with local people. Herders in these areas live a precarious economic life and loss of even a single sheep causes great economic hardship. This has led to several instances of retaliatory killing of snow leopards.


Another major challenge for the protection of snow leopards is poaching for their pelts. Their bones and other body parts are also in demand for use in traditional Asian medicines.

Other challenges

Much of its habitat is extremely difficult to access. Found at very high altitudes, studying the species and its current status and distribution is an arduous task.
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