Zoo New England is Supporting Snow Leopard Conservation!

I’m very excited to report that we have now gone through our very first round of Sabin Snow Leopard Grants!

This program, through the generous support of the Andrew Sabin Family Foundation, enables ZNE to provide one-year grants to snow leopard conservationists across the 12 snow leopard range countries in Asia. These countries – stretching from southern Russia through Mongolia, China, and the Central Asian states into Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, and Bhutan – contain some of the greatest mountain ranges in the world, and are the only places one can find this big cat roaming its snowy alpine home.

At the start of 2024 we awarded six grants to snow leopard conservationists studying a wide range of topics important to the conservation of this enigmatic and threatened big cat. These include:

  • Working with local communities to minimize conflict and protect snow leopards;
  • Performing health assessments of snow leopards through non-invasive techniques;
  • Studying changing predator dynamics between snow leopards, common leopards, and Himalayan wolves and assessing their impacts on local communities;
  • Determining spatial and temporal patterns of snow leopard diet in Nepal;
  • Characterizing snow leopard diet and health across Pakistan to inform conservation efforts;
  • Supporting a global initiative to ensure the long-term future of the global snow leopard population.

Listed as Vulnerable to Extinction, the snow leopard continues to be one of the most enigmatic and mysterious of the big cats. This is both because this apex predator lives in some of the roughest, most remote and isolated landscapes on the planet – the high alpine regions of Asia’s giant mountain ranges such as the Himalaya, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakoram, and Altai – but also because they naturally occur at low densities and are nearly impossible to spot with their amazing natural camouflage in the rocks and snow of their high mountain home.

Working in these extreme conditions, the conservationists undertaking these difficult projects are leading the effort to help protect and conserve snow leopard populations. Zoo New England is honored and grateful to have the opportunity to support these field researchers as they work to protect this rare and beautiful big cat.