Northern Nepal is home to around 500 of the endangered snow leopards. There are an estimated 3,000 to 7,500 snow leopards still around all across central Asia. These numbers, however, are only a very rough guess. The animals are legally protected in all countries,but the law is rarely enforced due to lack of awareness, insufficient political will to uphold regulations, or a shortage of funds and trained personnel.
Snow leopards are known to kill people’s lifestock, therefore there is a conflict between the animals and humans. Economic losses through predation can be over 12% of the vital income of subsistence farmers in some areas. Sometimes snow leopards kill more lifestock than they need to feed and kill up to 50 animals in one night. The US-based Snow Leopards Conservancy has now launched a snow leopard conservation project in Nepal to tackle the problems of poaching and habitat loss on a community-based level.
Snow leopards occur often in indigenous stories and myths in Nepal. In Dolpho, for example, there are stories of high lamas frequently making trips to Tibet in the shape of a snow leopard to search for rare, medicinal herbs. Generally there is a widespread believe that by killing a snow leopard all the animal’s sins will be transferred to the person killing it.