Uncia uncia

Migratory wild animals need to move freely across their habitats in order to survive but are increasingly hindered by linear infrastructure on their migration routes.  Elephants, Leopards and Mongolian gazelles are examples of animals that cover large distances in order to feed, find water, breed, or escape unfavorable weather conditions. The highly mobile Mongolian gazelles have adapted to the continental climate of Mongolia by moving hundreds of kilometers to avoid deep snow and cold in winter and drought conditions in summer.

24 Aug 2022

The Government of India, in its capacity as CMS COP President, has produced a report detailing conservation initiatives for many species listed on the CMS Appendices including those added during COP13 in Gandhinagar, India. Marine species are among those that benefit from new conservation measures. Being a signatory of the IOSEA Marine Turtles MOU, the government has launched a ‘National Marine Turtle Action Plan (2021-2026)’ to take effective measures for the conservation of marine turtles.

24 Feb 2021

Range State representatives, scientists and conservation experts met last week at the International Academy for Nature Conservation on the German Isle of Vilm to review the implementation of the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI), to discuss challenges and strategy for further action.

27 Apr 2018

On the 3rd of March each year is World Wildlife Day, this year being conducted with the theme “Big Cats – Predators under Threat”, highlighting the dramatic declines in numbers and habitat being suffered by Lions Tigers, Leopards and Jaguars as well as Cheetahs, Snow Leopards and Pumas. The campaign also provides an opportunity of publicizing and garnering support for the many conservation initiatives being undertaken worldwide to ensure big cats’ survival.

02 Mar 2018

With World Wildlife Day this year being celebrated under the theme Big Cats - Predators Under Threat, Bradnee Chambers, executive secretary of the UN Convention on Migratory Species, examines some of the difficulties involved in reconciling the interests of wild animals and the people who have to live alongside them.

27 Feb 2018

The theme for next month’s World Wildlife Day being celebrated around the world on 3 March will be “Big Cats: Predators under Threat”. World Wildlife Day, led by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), brings together a coalition of conservation organizations – joined this year for the first time by African Parks, Panthera and the World Association of Zoos and Aquariums. The campaign will stress the importance of actions – at the international, national and personal level – to ensure that big cat species survive in the face of a range of largely human-induced threats.

20 Feb 2018

Officials from all 12 Range States of the Snow Leopard met in Bishkek last week to discuss the possibility of further strengthening their collaborative efforts to conserve the mountain-dwelling cats. The Snow Leopard faces significant threats in the shape of poaching, targeted killing by herders protecting their livestock, lack of prey, shrinking habitats and climate change.

31 Aug 2017

In the Hollywood blockbuster The Secret Life of Walter Mitty (2013), the adventurous photographer Sean O’Connell decides not to take a picture of a snow leopard because he wishes to appreciate the unique moment of spotting the elusive and beautiful ‘ghost cat’.
В голливудском блокбастере «Невероятная жизнь Уолтера Митти» (2013), фотограф Шон О'Коннелл решает не фотографировать снежного барса, потому что он хочет оценить уникальный момент обнаружения неуловимой и красивой «призрачной кошки».

06 Feb 2017

Its silvery coat, spectral appearance and elusive nature have earned the Snow Leopard the pseudonym “the Ghost of the Mountains”. Its numbers are precariously low but concerted international efforts are under way to prevent the species’ extinction.

18 Oct 2016

Central Asian ecosystems, home to some of the most spectacular migrations of wild mammals in the world face increasing threats. Thirty experts active in Central Asia convened at the International Academy of Nature Conservation on Vilm Island in Germany to discuss how to advance their common goal of conserving Central Asian mammals and their habitats. The workshop was held on 22 to 26 August 2016 and focused on setting priorities for the implementation of the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI).

30 Aug 2016

The 7th mining forum "MINEX Central Asia – 2016" was hosted in the capital of Kazakhstan, Astana on 19-21 April 2016. For the first time the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), represented by Kazakhstan’s largest nature conservation NGO, the Association for the Conservation of the Biodiversity of Kazakhstan (ACBK), participated in a major event organized by the mining industry.

15 May 2016

Warmer temperatures are threatening to shrink the habitat of the snow leopard and weaken their struggle against extinction, a report says.

23 Oct 2015

Bonn, 22 October 2014 - Tomorrow is International Snow Leopard Day and it is being celebrated for the very first time this year, with special awareness raising and educational events being held in Bishkek Kyrgyzstan.

22 Oct 2014

Снежный барс (Uncia Uncia) является одной из самых известных больших диких кошек, населяющих горные ландшафты Афганистана, Бутана, Китая, Индии, Казахстана, Кыргызской Республики, Монголии, Непала, Пакистана, Российской Федерации, Таджикистана и Узбекистана. Основные места его обитания включают территории Алтая, Тянь-Шаня, Кунь Луня, Памира, Гиндукуша, Каракорума и Гималаи. Большинство исследований оценивает общую численность популяций снежного барса всего лишь в 4,500 – 6,000 особей. Это, в значительной степени одиночное, животное с низкой до очень низкой плотности популяции, населяет обширные территории горных хребтов на высоте от 540 м до более чем 5,000 над уровнем моря. Низкая плотность и обширные территорий распространения зачастую приводят к тому, что сохранение жизнеспособных популяций в пределах особо охраняемых природных территорий не может быть достигнуто и комплексные меры по охране ландшафта согласованные всеми государствами ареала особенно необходимы для сохранения популяций снежного барса. Кроме того, до одной трети всех известных популяций этого животного проживает в приграничных территориях, а именно, менее чем в 50 – 100 км от государственных границ 12 стран ареала. Поэтому укрепление трансграничного сотрудничества по сохранению снежного барса между государствами ареала является приоритетной деятельностью.

Наибольшие угрозы для снежного барса включают в себя: потерю мест обитания и кормовой базы, браконьерство, а также конфликт с местным населением в связи с охотой снежного барса на домашний скот. Браконьерство и незаконная торговля были наиболее распространены в бывших Советских Республиках в 1990-х в связи с неблагоприятной экономическими условиями. В то время, как ситуация в этих странах улучшилась, незаконная торговля, вероятно продолжается в большинстве стран ареала в связи с растущим спросом на барсов на черном рынке. Охрана снежного барса также усложняется из-за ограниченных научных данных о существующих популяциях и пробелов в законодательстве, управление и природоохранной политике.

Сохранение снежного барса

Признавая существующие угрозы, Стороны КМВ, внесли снежного барса в Приложение IКонвенции в 1986 году, требуя от государств ареала строгую охрану этого вида. Снежный барс также включен в Рекомендацию 9.3 по тиграм и другим большим азиатским кошачьим. Данная рекомендация призывает государства ареала к принятию мер по улучшению трансграничного сотрудничества по сохранению и рациональному использованию кошачьих, а также рекомендует потенциальным донорам увеличить финансовую поддержку данного сотрудничества. Резолюция 11.13 11-ой Встречи сторон КМВ, также рекомендует странам ареала разработать согласованные действия по сохранению снежного барса. Центрально-Азиатская Инициатива по Млекопитающим (ЦАИМ) КМВ охватывает 14 стран и 15 видов, в том числе снежного барса и архара, один из его видов-жертв. ЦАИМ была создана с целью обеспечения комплексного подхода к охране мигрирующих животных. Программа Работы (ПР) и Резолюция ЦАИМ были приняты в 2014 году на 11-ой Встрече Сторон КМВ. Действия направленные на сохранение снежных барсов и архаров, населяющих схожие горные экосистемы приведены в соответствие с усилиями по сохранению вида в рамках Глобальной программы по сохранению снежного барса и его экосистем (ГПССБЭ). ГПССБЭ была инициирована Правительством Кыргызской Республики при поддержке Глобальной инициативы по тиграм Всемирного Банка и объединила представителей всех 12 государств ареала, неправительственных организаций, межправительственных организаций, местных общин и частный сектор. Программа направлена на обеспечение долгосрочного выживания снежного барса в его естественной среде обитания через установление трансграничного сотрудничества направленного на сохранение целостности ландшафтов, в которых обитает барс.   

Снежный барс также внесен в Приложение I СИТЕС, запрещающее международную торговлю данным видом и его дериватами, за исключением особых случаев и некоммерческих целях.    


Photo Credit: Snow Leopard ConservancyThe Snow Leopard (Uncia uncia) is an iconic great wild cat inhabiting mountain terrains in Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, the Russian Federation, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan with core areas including the Altai, Tian Shan, Kun Lun, Pamir, Hindu Kush, Karakorum and Himalayan ranges. The estimated global population of Snow Leopards is as few as 4,500 – 6,000 animals. It is a largely solitary animal that lives at low to very low densities and requires large ranges in the mountains at elevations from 540 to more than 5,000 metres above sea level. Designated protected areas, even though an important conservation mechanism, are often too small to cover significant part of the large areas occupied by the Snow Leopard and do not allow to achieve the conservation of viable populations. Thus, concerted landscape-wide measures are necessary to ensure the survival of the species’ populations. Furthermore, up to one third of the known Snow Leopard population might have a range located less than 50 – 100 km from the international borders of 12 range countries. Therefore, strengthening of transboundary collaboration is particularly important for the conservation of the Snow Leopard.

Major threats to the Snow Leopard include habitat loss and degradation resulting among other negative effects in the depletion of prey base, poaching, and conflict with local human populations due to the killing of livestock.  Poaching and illegal trade were most severe in the former Soviet Republics in the 1990s due to the harsh economic conditions. While the situation has improved there, the illegal trade is likely to continue in large parts of the Snow Leopard range given growing demand for its derivatives.Conservation of the species is also a challenge because there is limited knowledge about its population and often inadequate conservation, policy and management capacities.

Photo credit: Snow Leopard Conservancy


Recognizing existing threats, CMS Parties listed the Snow Leopard under Appendix I in 1986, requiring from Range States a strict protection of this species. Furthermore, the Snow Leopard is covered by the Recommendation 9.3. Tigers and Other Asian Big Cats that calls range states to enhance mutual transboundary cooperation for the conservation and management of tigers and other Asian big cat species throughout their range and potential donor countries to provide or increase financial support for conservation of Asian big cat species. It is also designated by the COP11 Resolution 11.13 for concerted actions during 2015 – 2017. Additionally, the CMS Central Asian Mammals Initiative (CAMI) covers 14 countries and 15 species, including the Snow Leopard and its prey species, the Argali, aiming to provide a coherent framework for the conservation of migrating animals. The CAMI Programme of Work (PoW) and Resolution were adopted in 2014 at the 11th CMS COP. The activities for Snow Leopards and Argali inhabiting similar mountain ecosystems are proposed to align to conservation efforts under a Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP). GSLEP was initiated by the Kyrgyz Government with support of the World Bank’s Global Tiger Initiative and joined together representatives of all 12 Range States, non-governmental organizations, inter-governmental organizations, local communities and the private sector. The programme aims to secure long-term survival of the Snow Leopard in its natural ecosystem through ensuring landscape-level transboundary conservation. 

The Snow Leopard is currently listed in the IUCN Red List as globally endangered. The Snow Leopard is also included in CITES Appendix I which prohibits international trade in the animal and its parts and products except under exceptional, non-commercial circumstances.

Assessment information
CMS InstrumentsCMS, Central Asian Mammals Initiative
IUCN StatusEndangered
Date of entry in Appendix I1986
Geographic range
Countries Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russian Federation, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan

No pictures for Uncia uncia

Common names
EnglishSnow Leopard
FrenchPanthère Des Neiges, Irbis, Once
SpanishPantera de las nieves, leopardo blanco
GermanSchneeleopard, irbis
Scientific name Uncia uncia
AuthorSchreber 1775
Standard referenceWilson, D.E. & Reeder, D.M. Eds., 2005. Mammal Species of the World. A Taxonomic and Geographic Reference. Third Edition. John Hopkins University Press


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Other details
Critical sitesAltay-Sayan (China, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Russia); Junggar-Alatau (Kazakhstan, China); Saur-Tarbagatay (China, Kazakhstan); Inner Tien Shan (China, Kyrgyzstan); East Tien Shan (Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, China); West Tien Shan (Kyrgyzstan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan); Hissar-Alay (Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan); Pamir (Afghanistan, China, Tajikistan, Pakistan); Karakorum (Pakistan, Afghanistan, China); Central Himalaya (Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Pakistan); Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau (China, and small areas of Bhutan, Nepal, India); Gobi (China, Mongolia);
Additional notesFormerly listed as _Panthera uncia_.

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