Changing Planet

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

Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn

Forty years in U.S., UK, and South African media gives David Braun global perspective and experience across multiple storytelling platforms. His coverage of science, nature, politics, and technology has been published/broadcast by the BBC, CNN, NPR, AP, UPI, National Geographic, TechWeb, De Telegraaf, Travel World, and Argus South African Newspapers. He has published two books and won several journalism awards. He has 120,000 followers on social media. David Braun edits the National Geographic Society blog, hosting a global discussion on issues resonating with the Society's mission and initiatives. He also directs the Society side of the Fulbright-National Geographic Digital Storytelling Fellowship, awarded to Americans seeking the opportunity to spend nine months abroad, engaging local communities and sharing stories from the field with a global audience. Follow David on Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn
  • Kari Carrillo

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

  • Dhilipkumar

    Nice pictures

  • Fazilay raza

    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

  • Niloufer Feroz Shapurji

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

  • Shabbir Mandviwala

    Pic are too good, informative writeup.

  • Karun Rawat

    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…..!

  • Riccardo Gheller

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

  • Tiago Vieira

    one animail amazing!

  • Linda

    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.

  • jessica

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

  • Christine Haines

    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.

  • Christine Haines

    Is he scent marking?

  • Janet Van Swoll

    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.

  • Lakshmannaidu ganta


  • Lakshmannaidu ganta

    beutifull .

  • Feyen Ludovicus

    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 !

  • Abhijit Datta

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

  • Ivan Cordero

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

  • Sudipt Dutta

    No evidence of yetis!

  • Datta

    Awesome! I just saw one yesterday

About the Blog

Researchers, conservationists, and others share stories, insights and ideas about Our Changing Planet, Wildlife & Wild Spaces, and The Human Journey. More than 50,000 comments have been added to 10,000 posts. Explore the list alongside to dive deeper into some of the most popular categories of the National Geographic Society’s conversation platform Voices.

Opinions are those of the blogger and/or the blogger’s organization, and not necessarily those of the National Geographic Society. Posters of blogs and comments are required to observe National Geographic’s community rules and other terms of service.

Voices director: David Braun (

Social Media