WWF Provides Life Insurance for Snow Leopards

Lisa Poppleton April 30, 2012 2

Photo credit: Wikipedia/Bernard Landgraf

It is a conflict as old as the hills: the predation of domestic livestock by a wild animal and subsequent eradication of the predator by the deprived herder.  In this era of endangered species and declining natural habitat, such retaliation can hasten the extinction of an already imperiled animal.

The snow leopard is clinging by the tips of its claws to a continued existence in a vast central Asian range from Afghanistan to Bhutan and northward through China to Mongolia and Uzbekistan.  Estimates put the number of snow leopards remaining in the wild over this immense sweep at just 4,000 to 6,500 individuals. Not only are human settlement and climate change encroaching upon its mountain habitat, but this elusive and secretive animal is also hunted for trophies and pelts and the reputed medicinal value of its body parts.

An innovative program facilitated by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) aims to reduce the number of snow leopards killed in Nepal as a result of attacks on livestock.

Snow Leopard

Snow leopard. Photo copyright WWF.

Villagers in the eastern Himalayas near Kanchenjunga, the world’s third highest peak (located on the border of Nepal and Sikkim), are trained to survey and monitor snow leopards and to appreciate the asset of these legendary cats to the growth of ecotourism in the region.  A seed fund from WWF and Zurich University has set up an insurance plan at a village bank that compensates participating villagers for livestock killed by snow leopards.  Since it was established four years ago, not a single snow leopard has been killed in retaliation for preying on livestock, while monitoring seems to indicate a rise in the local snow leopard population.

Read more about this effective community-based approach to conservation, and view rare footage of snow leopards “captured” by a camera trap in Bhutan’s Wangchuk Centennial Park.

You can also learn more first-hand about the stunning wildlife and culture of the Himalayan region on Nat Hab’s Natural Jewels of Bhutan & Nepal adventure, Feb.10-22, 2013.  As with all our tours, a portion of your trip cost goes directly to WWF’s general fund to support conservation work around the world.


  1. Lisa Poppleton May 8, 2012 at 8:26 pm - Reply

    Hello Mr. Khan,
    Thank you for your message. I’m sorry if my description of the snow leopards’ range was not entirely clear. I did not list the many countries in which the animal exists, because that would make a very long list. I meant to say that the western edge of the snow leopard’s range is Afghanistan, and that it extends eastward and northward from there. So, Pakistan is one of the countries where the animal is found. My understanding is that the snow leopard is endangered everywhere in its natural range and there are numerous initiatives to help save the species, but my article only described the one program in Nepal. Best regards, Lisa Poppleton

  2. Yasser Khan May 7, 2012 at 11:45 pm - Reply

    i am from Pakistan and have grown up listening to the stories os snow leopards on the pakistani side of Himilayas. I have been astonished not to see the name of Pakistan in this article. Does it mean that the Pakistani snow leopards are not an endagered species or can we say that now even Animals will be subject to discrmination

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