The snow leopard is one of the most elusive cats in the world. As few as 3,500 of them may still roam the harsh, forbidding mountains of Central Asia. No one knows for sure.
I remember the day in 2006 when I learned that ten years of effort had resulted in the designation of the world's largest tiger reserve in a remote corner of Asia. I was euphoric, until late that afternoon when I received additional news about the deaths of two local people in the area, a mother of five and a teenage boy, who had succumbed to malaria. I had met and spoken with them both during visits to their villages. Now they were considered two more unfortunates on a list whose ranks swelled every year with the oncoming rains.