Wildlife And Wild Places

Wildlife and Wild Places: Snow Leopards

Wildlife and Wild Places

Wildlife and wild places are worth fighting for. The WCS community is made up of wildlife champions like you, fighting to preserve a future for iconic animals and irreplaceable habitats. For over 125 years, WCS has worked to discover and understand the natural world, and to inspire communities to protect endangered species.

WCS Run for the Wild

This year, WCS Run for the Wild is inspired by snow leopards. These charismatic big cats are as mysterious as they are beautiful. In the wild, a sighting is quite rare, as the few thousand that remain tend to spend their time hidden high in the hills and mountains of Central Asia.

WCS has long been a global leader in snow leopard conservation. In recent years, we have supported snow leopard conservation in Afghanistan, Pakistan, China, Uzbekistan, Tajikistan, and Kyrgyzstan. Our project activities include focused research using camera traps and satellite collars, community outreach and governance building, protected area development and management, anti-poaching and anti-trafficking initiatives, monitoring, conflict management, and health assessments. A total of 80 snow leopard cubs have been born at WCS parks in New York City, including two cubs born at the Bronx Zoo’s Himalayan Highlands exhibit in 2023. Snow leopards born at the Bronx Zoo have been sent to over 30 zoos in nine countries.

Hiking in the hills of northern Pakistan in the 1970s, WCS Senior Conservationist George Schaller spotted a snow leopard some 150 feet away. "Wisps of clouds swirled around," he later wrote in Stones of Silence, "transforming her into a ghost creature, part myth and part reality."

Today, snow leopards remain ghost-like—only a few thousand of them are left in the wild, stretched across one of the planet's last great wildernesses, the vast hills of Asia, which cover about 3 million square kilometers. WCS continues to play a global leadership role in their conservation.

In Pakistan, WCS has created a multi-year program to help protect a significant proportion of Gilgit-Baltistan Province, which is home to the snow leopard and the snow leopard's key prey species in much of the region, the flare-horned markhor. Poaching in this landscape has declined dramatically and markhor populations have increased by over 50% in the past decade, a great sign for snow leopards.

You can visit snow leopards year-round in the Bronx Zoo’s Himalayan Highlands or Central Park Zoo’s Temperate Territory. You’ll learn more about the threats they face in the wild, the adaptations that help them to survive, and the work WCS is doing to protect them.

Animals around the world are going extinct 10,000 times faster than ever before. Your support will give them a fighting chance.

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