Most Central Asian people have all but forgotten that the snow leopard and the rituals, knowledge and sacred sites that held the teachings about the snow leopard, comprise a way of unity. Before the cultural suppression of the Czars, Soviet Union and religious orthodoxy, only Chiefs or leaders had the right to have a snow leopard pelt. This promoted strong, positive engagement with the high mountain ecology. When the snow leopard was recognized as a central sacred icon, the people simultaneously recognized the cascade of environmental relationships and consequences generated by a top predator.
Central Asian Elders invited WISN’s involvement in creating a program that originates in the long-repressed culture and leads to contemporary actions to revive the central cultural role of the snow leopard while conserving these cats in the wild.