I got my Snow Leopard Trust newsletter last week. There were several photos taken by camera traps of wild snow leopards. I stood in my kitchen staring at these photos. Here are these cats standing on a mountain. There are no bars to protect them, and no keepers to bring them their meal. They hunt on these rocky slopes, fearing nothing. Only one thought went through my head: our world is so very blessed to have these amazing creatures.
I had a similar experience watching a documentary about snow leopards. Researchers saw that a mother snow leopard went to hunt, leaving her two cubs in their den. Wait! I thought. They are so rare and tiny! What if something happens to them? But that’s life in the wild.
Today is International Snow Leopard Day, a day to call attention to the Ghost of the Mountain. We are left with between 4,000 and 6,500 wild snow leopards. This number is shrinking due to habitat loss and conflict with man. There are simple ways to protect these cats. For instance, the Snow Leopard Trust works with the people who share the snow leopard’s habitat. Where the people might do a “revenge killing” after one of their goats is taken by a snow leopard, now they are more likely to shoot pictures with a cell phone. Studies of snow leopard behavior also help reduce this conflict, giving a better idea to the impact they are having.
Snow leopards are my second favorite species of cat, and I hope they are around for future generations to be amazed by.