Snow Leopards of the Gobi

Snow leopards are amongst the most beautiful and elusive of the great cats, their tawny coats with black rosettes offer effective camouflage in their native mountain habitats. Snow leopard are found in the mountainous regions of Central Asia, including the Altai, Pamir, Karakoram and Himalaya Ranges. Snow Leopards are widely distributed in the mountains of western and southern Mongolia, the Altai Range. Population estimates vary from about 800 to 1500 animals spread over a range of 40,000 sq miles. The highest densities are thought to be South Gobi, Gobi Altai and Northern Altai Mountains.

Many issues directly threaten the snow leopard's future in Mongolia. Illegal hunting occurs for trade in hides and bones, and poaching as retribution by herders for loss of domestic livestock. Poaching of Ibex and Argali sheep, the snow leopard's traditional prey, puts further pressure on domestic livestock and human intervention .

The need to involve herders in the process of conservation led to the establishment of Irbis Enterprises in 1998 as a community-based program (the word 'Irbis' is Mongolian for Snow Leopard). By offering and encouraging alternate income-generating activities to herders in regions inhabited by snow leopard, incentive and education not to kill the animals could be provided. Irbis Enterprises provides herders with access to local and foreign markets for herder-made handicrafts, returning the bulk of sales profit directly to the herders.

On this expedition we join local scientists on a research mission to the South Gobi, participating in a study to determine variation in snow leopard density in the Tost and Noyan mountain ranges; to interview Irbis Enterprises' partner families and record present attitudes towards Snow Leopards and livestock loss. During the course of the expedition we will participate in lectures by Mongolian scientists on Snow Leopard research in Mongolia, and learn about the future survival of this great cat.

Dates 2016




6 – 14 persons


Truly an exceptional expedition, and a unique opportunity to learn firsthand about this fantastic endangered species and its fight for survival. Proceeds from this expedition go directly towards funding Snow Leopard conservation in Mongolia.

This expedition is endorsed by the International Snow Leopard Trust and is run in partnership with Irbis Enterprises. For information about these organizations, please visit their websites: and

For itinerary, bookings and further information…

Back to Expeditions