Snow Leopards

Snow Leopards

Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes

1st Edition - June 6, 2016

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  • Editors: Tom Mccarthy, David Mallon
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128022139
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128024966

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Snow Leopards: Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes is the only comprehensive work on the biology, behavior, and conservation status of the snow leopard, a species that has long been one of the least studied, and hence poorly understood, of the large cats. Breakthroughs in technologies and methodologies to study this elusive cat have come rapidly, including non-invasive genetics, camera traps, and GPS-satellite collaring. The book begins with chapters on the genetic standing and taxonomy of the snow leopard, followed by chapters on their behavior and ecology. Additional contributions follow on the current and emerging threats to the species, which include longstanding concerns, such as poaching and conflicts with livestock, and new and emerging threats such as mining and climate change. A section on conservation solutions, backed by valuable case studies, starts with an overview of the important role mountain communities play in assuring the snow leopard’s long-term persistence. In addition, chapters on the role of captive snow leopards for the conservation of the species, state-of-the-art techniques and technologies for studying and monitoring snow leopards, status reports from around the region, and future perspectives, such as transboundary conservation initiatives, international conventions (CITES, CMS, etc.), the role of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and the Snow Leopard Network, and undertakings such as the Global Snow Leopard Forum facilitated by the World Bank are also included.

Key Features

  • Serves as the first and only comprehensive book on the biology, behavior, and conservation status of the snow leopard
  • Brings together the most current scientific knowledge, documents the most pressing conservation issues, and shares success stories in alleviating the broad threats that now jeopardize the long-term survival of this species
  • Brings current knowledge of the species, not only to researchers and conservationists, but also to decision makers, academics, and students
  • Edited by recognized snow leopard experts, with more than 50 years of collective experience in research and conservation of the species


snow leopard and large carnivore conservationists and researchers, academics and graduate students in the fields of wildlife conservation, captive breeding, habitat management and conservation biology, worldwide, and decision makers in governments within snow leopard range states which include Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan

Table of Contents

    • Dedication
    • List of Contributors
    • Foreword
    • Preface
    • Acknowledgments
    • I: Defining the snow leopard
      • Chapter 1: What is a Snow Leopard? Taxonomy, Morphology, and Phylogeny
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Taxonomic history and geographical variation
        • Fossil record
        • Phylogeny
        • Morphological adaptations
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 2: What is a Snow Leopard? Behavior and Ecology
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • General physical characteristics
        • Behavior
        • Ecology and habitat
      • Chapter 3: What is a Snow Leopard? Biogeography and Status Overview
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Range-wide assessment meeting (Beijing, China, 2008)
        • Outputs
        • Discussion
      • Chapter 4: Snow Leopard Prey and Diet
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Prey species
        • Dietary composition
        • Recent dietary studies
        • Dietary requirements and offtake rates
        • Competitors
        • Conclusions
    • II: Conservation concerns
      • Chapter 5: Livestock Predation by Snow Leopards: Conflicts and the Search for Solutions
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Revisiting “human-snow leopard conflicts”
        • Understanding conflicts over livestock predation
        • Managing conflicts over livestock predation
        • Acknowledgment
      • Chapter 6: Living on the Edge: Depletion of Wild Prey and Survival of the Snow Leopard
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Study areas
        • Snow leopards and their prey in Sagarmatha National Park
        • Snow leopards and their prey in Spiti Valley
        • Implications of wild prey abundance for conservation management of snow leopards
        • Acknowledgments
      • Chapter 7: Monitoring Illegal Trade in Snow Leopards (2003–2012)
        • Abstract
        • Background
        • Legal status
        • Previous TRAFFIC study
        • Current TRAFFIC study
        • Results
        • Recent records of snow leopards in trade (2013–2014)
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 8: Climate Change Impacts on Snow Leopard Range
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Climate change phenomena in snow leopard range
        • Predicting future impacts of climate change on snow leopard range
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 9: Diseases of Free-Ranging Snow Leopards and Primary Prey Species
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Diseases in free-ranging snow leopards
        • Diseases in snow leopard natural ungulate prey species
        • Conclusions
        • Acknowledgments
      • Chapter 10: Resource Extraction
        • Subchapter 10.1: Introduction
        • Subchapter 10.2: Emerging Threats to Snow Leopards from Energy and Mineral Development
        • Subchapter 10.3: Linear Infrastructure and Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Subchapter 10.4: Harvesting of Caterpillar Fungus and Wood by Local People
        • Subchapter 10.5: Synthesis
    • III: Conservation solutions in situ
      • Chapter 11: The Role of Mountain Communities in Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • A brief overview of community involvement in snow leopard conservation
        • Rationale for adopting community-based biodiversity protection and management models in snow leopard range countries
        • Improving snow leopard conservation
        • Conclusions
        • Acknowledgments
      • Chapter 12: Building Community Governance Structures and Institutions for Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Abstract
        • The case for governance and snow leopard conservation
        • Conservation and good governance: land tenure and representation
        • Building governance institutions
        • Early support for new governance institutions
        • Completing the circle: building linkages and comanagement processes with government
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 13: Incentive and Reward Programs in Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Subchapter 13.1: Himalayan Homestays: Fostering Human-Snow Leopard Coexistence
        • Subchapter 13.2: Handicrafts: Snow Leopard Enterprises in Mongolia
        • Subchapter 13.3: A Review of Lessons, Successes, and Pitfalls of Livestock Insurance Schemes
      • Chapter 14: Livestock Husbandry and Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Subchapter 14.1: Corral Improvements
        • Subchapter 14.2: The Role of Village Reserves in Revitalizing the Natural Prey Base of the Snow Leopard
        • Subchapter 14.3: The Ecosystem Health Program: A Tool to Promote the Coexistence of Livestock Owners and Snow Leopards
      • Chapter 15: Religion and Cultural Impacts on Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Subchapter 15.1: Introduction
        • Subchapter 15.2: Tibetan Buddhist Monastery-Based Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Subchapter 15.3: Shamanism in Central Asian Snow Leopard Cultures
        • Subchapter 15.4: Snow Leopards in Art and Legend of the Pamir
        • Subchapter 15.5: The Snow Leopard in Symbolism, Heraldry, and Numismatics: The Order “Barys” and Title “Snow Leopard”
      • Chapter 16: Trophy Hunting as a Conservation Tool for Snow Leopards
        • Subchapter 16.1: The Trophy Hunting Program: Enhancing Snow Leopard Prey Populations Through Community Participation
        • Subchapter 16.2: Argali Sheep (Ovis ammon) and Siberian Ibex (Capra sibirica) Trophy Hunting in Mongolia
        • Subchapter 16.3: Hunting of Prey Species: A Review of Lessons, Successes, and Pitfalls – Experiences from Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan
      • Chapter 17: Environmental Education for Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • What is EE?
        • Challenges in teaching snow leopard-focused EE
        • Different approaches to snow leopard EE
        • Ri Gyancha, India – a school-based approach
        • Nomadic nature trunks, Mongolia – thinking “outside the BOX”
        • Snow leopard scouts – environmental camps in two regions of Nepal
        • Snow leopard day festival, Altai Republic, Russia
        • Cross-border EE exchanges
        • Zoos and snow leopard EE
        • Monitoring and evaluation
        • From awareness to action
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 18: Law Enforcement in Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Abstract
        • Snow leopards – illegal killing and trade
        • The two ends of the illegal trade market: what must be done?
        • Protection: a landscape solution and legal strategy
        • Breaking the chain
        • Next steps
      • Chapter 19: Transboundary Initiatives and Snow Leopard Conservation
        • Abstract
        • Transboundary conservation and snow leopards
        • Rationale for transboundary collaboration
        • The legal framework for transboundary conservation
        • Challenges in implementing transboundary conservation
        • Transboundary conservation initiatives and current status of transboundary protected areas
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 20: Corporate Business and the Conservation of the Snow Leopard: Worlds That Need Not Collide
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Business case for conservation
        • Conclusions
    • IV: Conservation solutions ex situ
      • Chapter 21: Role of Zoos in Snow Leopard Conservation: Management of Captive Snow Leopards in the EAZA Region
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Breakthroughs in the 1980s
        • Goal of the EEP: to maintain a genetically intact population with high gene diversity
        • Suggestions for improvement
        • Toward global management
        • Why keep snow leopards in captivity?
      • Chapter 22: Role of Zoos in Snow Leopard Conservation: The Species Survival Plan in North America
        • Abstract
        • Population management and sustainability
        • Husbandry
        • Nutrition
        • Disease recognition and management
        • Reproduction
        • Exhibit design
        • Education
        • Collaboration and challenges
      • Chapter 23: The Role of Zoos in Snow Leopard Conservation: Captive Snow Leopards as Ambassadors of Wild Kin
        • Subchapter 23.1: Kolmården Wildlife Park: Supporting Snow Leopards in the Wild, Sharing the Message at Home
        • Subchapter 23.2: Woodland Park Zoo: From a Zoo Came a True Snow Leopard Champion
        • Subchapter 23.3: Bronx Zoo: Ambassadors from the Roof of the World
      • Chapter 24: Rescue and Rehabilitation Centers and Reintroductions to the Wild
        • Subchapter 24.1: Rescue, Rehabilitation, Translocation, Reintroduction, and Captive Rearing: Lessons From Handling the Other Big Cats
        • Subchapter 24.2: NABU Snow Leopard Rehabilitation Center in Kyrgyzstan
    • V: Techniques and technologies for the study of a cryptic felid
      • Chapter 25: Snow Leopard Research: A Historical Perspective
        • Abstract
        • In the beginning
        • Steady march of science
      • Chapter 26: From VHF to Satellite GPS Collars: Advancements in Snow Leopard Telemetry
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • VHF telemetry – the first studies
        • Argos PTT telemetry
        • GPS telemetry
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 27: The Role of Genetics
        • Subchapter 27.1: Conservation Genetics of Snow Leopards
        • Subchapter 27.2: Diet Reconstruction of Snow Leopard Using Genetic Techniques
      • Chapter 28: Camera Trapping: Advancing the Technology
        • Abstract
        • Conservation and research applications of camera trapping
        • Analytical advances and study design progress
        • Analytical advances and future directions
        • Design considerations and pitfalls
        • Overview of camera trap technology
        • Camera trap data management
        • Future directions in technology
      • Chapter 29: Landscape Ecology: Linking Landscape Metrics to Ecological Processes
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Scale
        • Quantifying spatial covariates
        • Applying landscape ecology to snow leopards
        • Conclusions
        • Acknowledgments
    • VI: Snow leopard status and conservation: regional reviews and updates
      • Chapter 30: Central Asia: Afghanistan
        • Abstract
        • Introduction: historical records and past conservation efforts
        • Present status of snow leopards in Afghanistan
        • Current threats to snow leopard populations
        • Measures to conserve snow leopard in Afghanistan
        • Conclusions
        • Acknowledgment
      • Chapter 31: Central Asia: Kyrgyzstan
        • Abstract
        • Snow leopard habitat and distribution
        • Status of snow leopard prey
        • Legal protection
        • Threats to snow leopards in Kyrgyzstan
        • National Action Plan, the NSLEP, and management plans for protected areas
        • Transboundary conservation initiatives
        • NGOs working in Kyrgyzstan on the conservation of snow leopards
        • Future needs
      • Chapter 32: Central Asia: Kazakhstan
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Distribution
        • Population size
        • Threats
        • Snow leopard conservation in Kazakhstan
        • Action plan for snow leopard conservation in Kazakhstan
      • Chapter 33: Central Asia: Tajikistan
        • Abstract
        • Snow leopard habitat in Tajikistan
        • Status of key prey species
        • Protected areas where snow leopards occur
        • Threats to snow leopards in Tajikistan
        • Legal protection
        • Future needs and priorities
      • Chapter 34: Central Asia: Uzbekistan
        • Abstract
        • Snow leopard status
        • Prey species
        • Existing protected areas and their effectiveness (Chatkal, Gissar, Zaamin)
        • Planned protected area expansion
        • Threats
        • History of the snow leopard national strategy and action plan
      • Chapter 35: South Asia: Bhutan
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Snow leopard habitat distribution in Bhutan
        • Threats
        • Legal status of snow leopard
        • Snow leopard conservation in Bhutan
        • Chronology of snow leopard conservation efforts in Bhutan
        • Future plans
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 36: South Asia: India
        • Abstract
        • Snow leopard range in India
        • State of knowledge
        • Revising snow leopard population estimates for India
        • Threats to snow leopards
        • Conservation efforts in India
        • The way forward
      • Chapter 37: South Asia: Nepal
        • Abstract
        • Distribution, abundance, and population status
        • Conservation threats and challenges
        • Strategies to mitigate conservation threats
        • Conclusions and next steps forward
      • Chapter 38: South Asia: Pakistan
        • Subchapter 38.1: Snow Leopard Conservation in Pakistan: A Historical Perspective
        • Subchapter 38.2: The Current State of Snow Leopard Conservation in Pakistan
      • Chapter 39: Northern Range: Mongolia
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Status and threats
        • The history of snow leopard conservation in Mongolia
        • Snow leopards in law and policy
        • Transboundary initiatives
        • Research, monitoring, and capacity building
        • Wildlife law enforcement
        • Legal framework to empower communities to comanagement wildlife and habitat
        • Future needs to mitigate snow leopard threats
        • Acknowledgments
      • Chapter 40: Northern Range: Russia
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Snow leopard-herder conflict mitigation projects
        • Lessons learned from ANTI-POACHING projects
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 41: China: The Tibetan Plateau, Sanjiangyuan Region
        • Abstract
        • Status of snow leopard in Sanjiangyuan Region
        • The big brother rules?
        • The making of a flagship species
        • Coexistence in the “Snow Leopard Landscape”
      • Chapter 42: China: Current State of Snow Leopard Conservation in China
        • Abstract
        • A brief history of the snow leopard In China
        • Current snow leopard distribution in China
        • National strategies for snow leopard protection
        • Conservation goals
        • Priority areas
        • Working together: opportunities and actions for international cooperation
        • What future for snow leopard in China?
        • Synonyms and local names for snow leopard used in China
    • VII: The future of snow leopards
      • Chapter 43: Sharing the Conservation Message
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Communicating conservation messages with the general public
        • Communicating conservation messages within the scientific community
        • Communicating the conservation message with government
        • Conclusions
      • Chapter 44: Global Strategies for Snow Leopard Conservation: A Synthesis
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Snow leopard strategies
        • Why conserve snow leopards?
        • Where to conserve snow leopards?
        • How to conserve snow leopards?
        • A strategic synthesis
      • Chapter 45: The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program
        • Abstract
        • Genesis: how the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program and the Snow Leopard Initiative were formed
        • Framework: key principles, structure, and approaches of the Snow Leopard Initiative
        • Preparation stage and milestones of the GSLEP and Global Forum on Snow Leopard Conservation
        • The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program
        • GSLEP launch, implementation, and information sharing
      • Chapter 46: Joining up the Spots: Aligning Approaches to Big Cat Conservation from Policy to the Field
        • Abstract
        • Introduction
        • Planning approach for the conservation of large cats
        • Strategic planning stipulations for the conservation of the snow leopard
        • Discussion and recommendations: Strategic planning requirements for conservation of the snow leopard
      • Chapter 47: Future Prospects for Snow Leopard Survival
        • Abstract
    • Subject Index

Product details

  • No. of pages: 644
  • Language: English
  • Copyright: © Academic Press 2016
  • Published: June 6, 2016
  • Imprint: Academic Press
  • Hardcover ISBN: 9780128022139
  • eBook ISBN: 9780128024966

About the Series Volume Editors

Tom Mccarthy

Dr. Tom McCarthy, Panthera’s Director of Snow Leopard Programs, began his conservation career studying brown bears, black bears, mountain goats and caribou in Alaska in the early 1980s. A strong interest in international conservation led him to Mongolia in 1992, where, under the guidance of Dr. George Schaller (known as “one of the founding fathers of wildlife conservation”), he took over the management of a long-term snow leopard research project. He was the first biologist to use satellite radio-collars on snow leopards. McCarthy became the Science and Conservation Director of the Snow Leopard Trust in 2000 and has since led their extensive science and community-based conservation programs across much of snow leopard range in Asia. From 2002-2009, Dr. McCarthy served as Executive Director of the Snow Leopard Network, a global consortium of more than 200 professionals involved in snow leopard research and conservation. Among other research initiatives, Dr. McCarthy is leading both a range-wide assessment of snow leopard genetics that seeks to identify movement corridors which are critical to maintaining the health and genetic diversity of the species, and a revision of methods by which snow leopard populations can be monitored over time, including such novel non-invasive approaches as fecal genetics, camera trapping and statistical modeling based on sign surveys.

Affiliations and Expertise

Executive Director, Snow Leopard Program, PANTHERA, New York, NY, USA

David Mallon

Dr. David Mallon is not only a recognized expert on snow leopards, he is extremely knowledgeable on the conservation status of Central Asia as a whole. He conducted some of the early assessments of the status of snow leopards in Mongolia and has done surveys in many of the Himalayan range states. He has more than 25 years of field work experience in the Himalaya, Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, Central Asia and Arabia, mainly focused on large mammals, and involving species surveys, biodiversity assessment, habitat assessment, camera trapping, training, capacity building, and training local partners in census and monitoring techniques. He is a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and the Zoological Society of London, as well as a member of the International Editorial Board for Oryx, the International Journal of Conservation. He has been a Steering Committee member of the Snow Leopard Network since its inception in 2003 and is currently the elected Chairman of that 400 member organization, which represents nearly every biologist and conservationist now active in the snow leopard world. He is highly respected among his peers as an expert on this cat.

Affiliations and Expertise

Division of Biology and Conservation Ecology, School of Science and the Environment, Manchester Metropolitan University, Manchester, UK

About the Series Editor

Philip Nyhus

Philip Nyhus is the Director of the Environmental Studies Program at Colby College in Maine, Maine, US. His interdisciplinary research bridges the natural and social sciences to address human interactions with the environment, including endangered species conservation and recovery, human-wildlife conflict, large landscape conservation, and spatial modelling. He is co-editor of Tigers of the World: The Science, Politics and Conservation of Panthera tigris (2010).

Affiliations and Expertise

Environmental Studies Program, Colby College, Waterville, Maine, USA

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  • RobynSue L. Wed Dec 21 2022

    Snow Leopards

    I Love this book and

  • Paul B. Wed Feb 12 2020


    Simply unparalleled in its approach to examining snow leopards across every country. This is so comprehensive that it is hard to explain how brilliant it is. As a big cat researcher, this is the best that collaboration has to offer. I recommend it wholeheartedly!

  • FrédéricLARREY Sat May 25 2019

    Great book

    The scientific book on last studies of the snow leopard, very complete. A great work !!

  • MarcoBergami. Sun Feb 10 2019

    Amazing studies!

    Amazing, technical, deep studies about irbis!

  • RobertoPennino Tue Jan 15 2019

    Snow Leopards: Biodiversity of the World: Conservation from Genes to Landscapes

    A very well researched and extremely valuable resource on snow leopards. A comprehensive work on the biology, behavior, and conservation status of the snow leopard. Strongly recommended for all biologist, conservationists, and researchers interested in working with this species and also enthusiast intrigued in learning more about the current research and conservation efforts of this magnificent species.

  • Fred K. Tue Mar 13 2018

    Biodiversity of the World: Snow Leopards

    This very comprehensive, multi-author review, edited by big cat experts Thomas McCarthy and David Mallon, deserves to be in the library of all wildlife professionals and animal enthusiasts interested in the biology and conservation of the snow leopard. The Wildlife Society agreed with this assessment when they awarded it an outstanding book prize in 2017! The book could not come out at a better time. While the snow leopard is IUCN Red Listed as vulnerable to extinction, new technologies and scientific tools -- and thoughtful collaborations between most snow leopard experts and organizations -- provides the world a chance to protect this magnificent cat for future generations. This important book provides the knowledge foundation for such work.

  • Paul S. Tue Mar 13 2018

    Snow Leopards

    Very Interesting. A good Read.

  • Alexander S. Mon Mar 12 2018

    Snow Leopards

    A scholarly book of comprehensive scope. A must have for felid biologists.