Snow Leopard at Memphis Zoo.
Canon 50D with 100-400mm
The snow leopard (Uncia uncia) is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. The total wild population of the snow leopard was estimated at only 4,080 to 6,590 individuals by McCarthy et al. 2003. Many of these estimates are rough and outdated.
In 1972 the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) placed the snow leopard on its Red List of Threatened Species as globally “Endangered”; the same threat category was applied in the assessment conducted in 2008.
There are also 600-700 snow leopards in zoos around the world. There are numerous agencies working to conserve the snow leopard and its threatened mountain ecosystems. These include the Snow Leopard Trust, the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Snow Leopard Network. These groups and numerous national governments from the snow leopard’s range, non-profits and donors from around the world recently worked together at the 10th International Snow Leopard Conference in Beijing. Their focus on research, community programs in snow leopard regions and education programs are aimed at understanding the cat’s needs as well as the needs of the villagers and herder communities impacting snow leopards’ lives and habitat.