Rare Snow Leopards Seen on Mount Everest

Snow Leopard 14

To celebrate International Snow Leopard Day, today, October 23, National Geographic Cat Watch is publishing two images from camera traps set up to document the elusive and seldom-seen big cat on Mount Everest.

The Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center is a partnership initiative of Vanke Foundation and Qomolangma (Mt. Everest) National Nature Reserve. The 34,000-square-kilometer (13,000-square-mile) sanctuary protects the highly unique and diverse ecosystem found along the border of China and Nepal, centered around the world’s highest mountain.

“It is home to many endangered species including the snow leopard. But very little is known about the distribution and population status of snow leopards in this area,” according to a statement released with these photos by the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center.

The statement added that in the early 1990s, snow leopard expert Rodney Jackson did a brief field study on the species in this area. “He estimated that there may possibly be in excess of 100 snow leopards within the reserve. Since then, no research or conservation projects on snow leopards have been carried out in this area.”

In May 2014, Vanke Foundation, a Chinese private foundation founded by China Vanke Co., Ltd, joined the Qomolangma Nature Reserve to establish the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center. The Center aims to promote human-snow leopard coexistence through science, conservation action, public engagement and fostering future conservation leaders. The focus of the center’s work includes studying and monitoring snow leopard status, reducing threats to snow leopards through science-led, problem-oriented, community-based actions and securing greater financial and policy support for snow leopard conservation by increasing public awareness and participation.

An expedition in May and June this year by the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center  with scientists from the Wildlife Institute of Beijing Forestry University, South China Research Institute of Endangered Species, and Image for Biodiversity Expedition, found 293 snow leopard signs such as scrapes, pugmarks, and feces. They also installed 44 motion-sensor cameras at 4 sites in the Qomolangma area, photographing snow leopards 27 times. This is the first time that wild snow leopard was photographed in this region along the northern slopes of the Great Himalaya Range, the Center said.

“In the next step, we will conduct in-depth studies of snow leopards, their habitat and prey, as well as their interactions with local residents.” said GAO Yufang, executive director of the Everest Snow Leopard Conservation Center.

12418031_10153900711084116_8462971761216697621_nDavid Braun is director of outreach with the digital and social media team illuminating the National Geographic Society’s explorer, science, and education programs.

He edits National Geographic Voices, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society’s mission and major initiatives. Contributors include grantees and Society partners, as well as universities, foundations, interest groups, and individuals dedicated to a sustainable world. More than 50,000 readers have participated in 10,000 conversations.

Braun also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship

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  1. Datta
    July 3, 12:24 pm

    Awesome! I just saw one yesterday

  2. Sudipt Dutta
    November 7, 2014, 4:52 am

    No evidence of yetis!

  3. Ivan Cordero
    Humacao, Puerto Rico
    October 31, 2014, 6:06 pm

    Amazing images. Wish we had some in our forests back home. Thanks for sharing them with us. Ivan Cordero

  4. Abhijit Datta
    Kolkata, India
    October 26, 2014, 2:26 pm

    It is nice to hear their existence , lovely !
    Photo shows that it’s camouflaged !

  5. Feyen Ludovicus
    Canarian islands
    October 25, 2014, 9:08 pm

    Wonderful to hear there are some left in this area , i walked up there to the base camp in 1977 and the story went that some members of a japanese everest expedetion captured a young snowleopard to take home with them . Hope it was just a story !

  6. Lakshmannaidu ganta
    October 25, 2014, 1:56 pm

    beutifull .

  7. Lakshmannaidu ganta
    October 25, 2014, 1:54 pm


  8. Janet Van Swoll
    Bella Vista, Arkansas
    October 25, 2014, 11:59 am

    I still carry a picture in my wallet taken by a camera trap of a snow leopard. Thanks to Rodney and Darla. Elevation 22,000 feet up. It was a bright blue-sky day in the snow, so the picture is quite beautiful. This was one of the very first pictures by camera traps “taken by snow leopards”. Thanks to Dr. Rodney Jackson. I think the animal was named “Crooked Tail, because of the crook towards the end of his tail.

  9. Christine Haines
    October 25, 2014, 2:03 am

    Is he scent marking?

  10. Christine Haines
    October 25, 2014, 1:57 am

    Look how he blends in with the rock. The only reason I would ever visit Everest would be to see a leopard. Though I suspect what I’ve seen in Sir Davids documentaries would be more than most in a lifetime.

  11. jessica
    October 24, 2014, 11:20 pm

    When I was in high school October 23 was “Mol Day” to celebrate Avogadro’s number, a basic unit in chemistry.

  12. Linda
    October 24, 2014, 8:07 pm

    Absolutely magnificent.nature pictures. 5 weeks ago I visited the Bronx Zoo in NY and had the luck to see the two new born Snow Leopard Cubs.

  13. Tiago Vieira
    October 24, 2014, 7:19 pm

    one animail amazing!

  14. Riccardo Gheller
    October 24, 2014, 11:29 am

    “the good things do not ask for attention”
    The secret life of Walter Mitty

  15. Karun Rawat
    October 24, 2014, 10:49 am

    its a privilege to see such wonderful creator in my country. Being a researcher especially from tourism background, i also agreed with Mr. Yufang that to bring them into a sustainable environment. There is a need of research and it is the most drastic gap in my country , after having all these potential opportunities. May be its the right time to explore….!
    god bless…..!

  16. Shabbir Mandviwala
    October 24, 2014, 7:58 am

    Pic are too good, informative writeup.

  17. Niloufer Feroz Shapurji
    October 24, 2014, 5:04 am

    Love all your articles&snaps taken by you gr8 guys!

  18. Fazilay raza
    October 24, 2014, 4:57 am

    HadAn experience to visit a den used by a snow leopard in winter in nathigali i wonder if it is the same species of cat in this part of himalays

  19. Dhilipkumar
    chennai India
    October 24, 2014, 1:00 am

    Nice pictures

  20. Kari Carrillo
    October 23, 2014, 5:23 pm

    In high school I always thought I wanted to study the snow leopard. It is my favorite big cat.