NEW STRATEGIES TO PRESERVE THE MOST ELUSIVE BIG CAT OF THE PLANET
With around 45 snow leopards (Panthera uncia) killed every year by poachers in India alone, the population of this great cat in the Asian country has fallen to around 200-600 individuals scattered over 90,000 square kilometers of mountains
Snow leopards live a solitary life at elevations of 3,000 to 4,500 meters in some mountains of Central Asia, playing a key role as a predator. The exact total number is unknown, estimated at around 4,600 to 8,700 individuals, of which between 220 and 450 are illegally killed each year. Leopards are declining mainly due to poaching, loss of prey and the impact of climate change.
These felines are well adapted to the cold with a dense coat, a special nasal cavity that heats the cold air before it reaches the lungs, large hairy legs that act as snowshoes, and a very long tail that uses to balance when chasing to its prey and that acts as protection against the cold, since the leopards wrap around themselves while they are resting.
Although the favorite prey of the snow leopards are the Blue sheep or Bharal, the Tibetan ibex and other wild herbivores, they sometimes attack domestic livestock, inciting the shepherds to hunt them illegally. Now conservation NGOs, governments and villagers have come together to protect the habitat, its prey and, therefore, the snow leopards through innovative methods, such as aid to finance insurance, or to keep certain areas free of grazing. in order to favor their prey.
This photographic work done during three winters in the Himalayas shows both the snow leopard (rarely photographed), its natural environment, the animals with which it shares the landscape, and the shepperds with whom it sometimes enters into conflict but who now , in some places, they take care of and protect him.