How Many Snow Leopards Are Left In The World

There may only be between 4,080 to 6,590 snow leopards in the world, according to the World Wild Fund for Nature. Meanwhile, the Snow Leopard Trust estimates that there are between 3,920 to 6,390 snow leopards remaining in the world. 

Getting an accurate count is obviously impossible given the famously elusive nature of this animal and its very remote and fragmented habitat. However, there is no doubt that snow leopards are under threat, with their population decreasing by 30 per cent over the past two decades. Fortunately, there are signs that conservation attempts have been reasonably successful with the classification for the species being changed from endangered to vulnerable, although significant challenges remain.

Some information on snow leopards

Snow leopards live in the icy, high-altitude mountains of Central Asia, including parts of the Himalayas. Their habitat stretches through 12 countries including Afghanistan, Bhutan, India, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Kazakhstan and China. Almost 60 percent of all snow leopards may live in China. 

The snow leopard is an apex predator that plays a key role in the ecology of its habitat. They have thick gray fur with solid markings that allow them to blend seamlessly into their snowy, rocky environment.  Their long, thick tails help them to balance on steep hills while their long hind legs give them excellent agility. Snow leopards can leap a distance of 50 feet. They also have large, furry paws that allow them to pad through snow.

A shy, elusive animal, the snow leopard is referred to as the ‘ghost of the mountain’. They typically prey on ibex, blue sheep, Argali wild sheep, pika, deer and other small mammals. Snow leopards live solitary, nomadic lives within clearly defined home ranges that can vary in size. 

Main threats

Snow leopards face numerous threats that have severely impacted their numbers. Their fur is prized in many countries while their bones are used for traditional medicine. As a result, poaching remains a major threat. In addition, a reduction in prey species has led to snow leopards preying on domestic livestock. As a result, they often become victims of retaliatory killings by farmers and herders.

Climate change represents a long-term threat to these animals, possibly leading to a great reduction in their habitat. Their range continues to decline as a result of human settlement and the use of land for grazing.


Most of the countries where snow leopards live have passed laws protecting the animal. In addition, special wildlife sanctuaries have been designated in these countries to ensure the safety of the remaining snow leopards. 

Efforts are ongoing to control the illegal trade in their parts and reduce the conflict between these animals and the local farmers through ventures such as the building of predator-proof pens and insurance schemes. In addition, there are initiatives to protect their habitat from mining and infrastructure development.