The snow leopard is notoriously camera-shy—it is also endangered, with something like 4,500 to 7,500 left in the wild. For both of these reasons, wildlife experts are thrilled with footage (video below) captured by the Government of Bhutan and World Wildlife Fund (WWF). And it's not just snow leopards: Also captured on film were Tibetan wolf, wild dog, red fox, blue sheep, Himalayan serow, musk deer, Pika, pheasants and several birds of prey.
"The findings are phenomenal as these are the first snow leopard images recorded in Wangchuck Centennial Park," said Dr. Rinjan Shrestha, who led the WWF survey team. "It suggests that the network of protected areas and corridors is helping to link local snow leopard populations, which will be invaluable to ensure long-term persistence of snow leopards in the region."
The snow leopard's habitat is being squeezed as the snowy, mountainous regions it prefers are getting smaller due to global warming. As the climate becomes milder, treelines ascend, and the leopards must seek higher ground—but they can only go so far. There is an upper boundary of sorts where the oxygen is simply too scarce. Additionally, snow leopards are killed by retaliating shepherds and poachers seeking their pelts. It's a tough situation for a majestic and feared animal; as WWF explains in an explanatory note on YouTube: "This endangered species is the top predator in the high Himalaya. Its only predators are humans."