Snow Leopard Project, Altai Republic, Siberia

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.