This is a baby snow Leopard, one of the most elusive, rare and intelligent creatures on the whole planet Earth. It is incredible to think that this small cub will one day be capable of leaping over 50 feet horizontally across mile high snowy mountains.
Snow Leopards live at the top of the Earth. Blessed with the longest fur and tail of all cat species, they thrive within inhospitable, rugged and barren terrain. Large padded feet and specially designed breathing mechanisms allow them to endure sub -25oC temperatures in the highest mountain range of all, the Himalayas.
Despite their incredible intelligence and natural adaptation, these graceful cats are dying due to unsustainable human development. Open mine projects and poaching are among the leading causes of death for snow leopards today.
Up until relatively recently local herders considered Snow Leopards to be a significant threat, and thus killed hundreds of these animals every year. Thanks to insurance programs for livestock and community investment from private wildlife expeditions, local attitudes are now changing in many village communities. In this way ecologically responsible private wildlife tours are having a profoundly positive impact upon the conservation of many species.
Combined with wider efforts to conserve wild habitat, we can achieve a much brighter future for both these endangered species and many others.
Conscious wildlife tourism could soon become the primary source of funding for much endangered species conservation work, as is now the case in Africa.