Big cats are elusive, but the snow leopard especially so. Locals living alongside the leopards often refer to them as the ‘ghosts of the mountains’ as they are hardly ever seen.
The snow leopard, which is one of the most endangered cats in the world, is found in rocky and barren mountains in central and south Asia, and is on the International Union for the Conservation of Nature Red List of Threatened Species. The Union estimates there are only 4,000–7,500 leopards left in the wild.
The cat is considered a mythical creature, featured in Indian, Nepalese and Tibetan folklore, but it has also been used an indicator of the health of high-altitude environments: if snow leopards thrive, so will countless other species.
Due to a demand for their fur, and increasing pressures on their habitats from expanding industries, pastoralists and climate change, the International Union for the Conservation of Nature predicts that a further 10 per cent of are expected to disappear by 2040.
To address the problem, UN Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Vanishing Treasures initiative has teamed up with regional partners in Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic to better understand the present and future vulnerabilities of pastoral communities living with the leopards. With this knowledge, UNEP is working to apply solutions that can sustain the coexistence of people and snow leopards on the same land.
The Vanishing Treasures programme works closely with UNEP’s Wild for Life campaign, which has donated to the Snow Leopard Trust—a global leader in snow leopard science. UNEP filmmakers are using Virtual Reality (VR) 360-degree camera traps to monitor snow leopards and guide conservation efforts in the Kyrgyz Republic.
Run wild with Uuliin
From 23 October to 3 November, you can race against Uuliin, a real Mongolian wild snow leopard in the free adidas Runtastic app. Uulin, is tracked using GPS technology for scientific purposes by the Snow Leopard Trust and its partners. For these 12 days, you can push yourself to beat Uuliin's running stats and receive information on how to contribute to the conservation efforts that keep him safe.