Ever wonder what it would look like to be in the maw of a snow leopard? Wonder no more.
Snow leopards are just so cat. They are the coolest of felines; solitary, elusive, and reigning over tremendous home ranges high in the mountains. Not to mention strong, agile, and gorgeous.
They are also important, as the UN Environment's Vanishing Treasures program points out. As a top predator, they fill a crucial role in regulating populations of their prey "and in doing so, maintaining healthy, high mountain landscapes." They are considered an umbrella species, "meaning that protecting the Snow Leopard and its habitats can have positive effects for the conservation of other species including the grey Wolf, Eurasian lynx and others, as well as the habitats they inhabit."And like every other animal on the planet, snow leopards are in trouble. Human encroachment is leading to diminised pastureland and wildlife habitats, as well as increased human-wildlife conflict and retaliatory killings. There is also illegal hunting and trade of snow leopards and their prey, increasing fragmentation of habitat due to infrastructure development like mining, and impacts from climate change.
The Vanishing Treasures program was created to help protect endangered mountain species like the snow leopard, mountain gorilla, and tiger. For the snow leopard, they are focusing on the Central Asian countries of Tajikistan and the Kyrgyz Republic. The idea is that by better understanding the threats these magnificent mammals face, conservationists can be better equipped to strategize on how "to lessen or avoid human-wildlife conflict, sustainably manage pasture resources and promote alternative livelihood activities, and reduce communities’ vulnerability to climate change." Not bad, eh?
And it was with this in mind that GoPro producer Philippe Matteini joined in partnership with the program to film the incredible clip below. What a beauty. Smart, curious, slinky, and sly – a cat's cat, to be sure.