About the Study

Map showing the location of our study site in IndiaSnow leopards are one of the least studied of the big cats. With as few as 4,000 remaining in the wild, it is imperative that we learn more about them in order to plan our conservation strategies.

In India, the Snow Leopard Trust is working with Nature Conservation Foundation, an internationally respected authority on Indian wildlife, to learn more about these endangered cats.

High in the Himalayas, intrepid researchers place automatic cameras with infrared motion sensors, called “research cameras.” These cameras are an integral part of snow leopard research. They allow us to identify individuals based on their spot patterns, estimate population sizes, and track changes to those populations over time.

Research camera studies are focused in and around the Spiti Valley, a vast and remote area covering 7,000 sq km in ┬áthe Himalayas of India’s northern state of Himachal Pradesh. About 40 cameras are set out across a 2000 km2 area. The cameras are carefully placed and spaced to fit the mathematical models we use to generate population estimates.

The cameras are placed in the spring, usually around April or May, and stay in the field for up to a month before their memory cards are collected and we move on to cover other blocks.

During their field time, each camera operates all day, every day, taking photographs of anything that triggers its motion sensor.