Last October, Panthera gathered stories from our scientists, researchers, and partners to document their favorite encounters with big cats in the wild. This month, read our Director of Snow Leopard Programs Tom McCarthy's account of a sighting that still moves him, twelve years later.
While some of you may know the snow leopard from the amazing chase sequence in the BBC Planet Earth series, most people think 'snow leopard' pertains to Apple's latest Operating System, or the brutal and ruthless villain, Tai Lung, from last year's smash hit Kung Fu Panda. Well, snow leopards are nothing akin to Operating Systems -- nor are they brutal and ruthless in any shape or form.
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.