Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards

At the International Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Conservation Forum 2017 in Bishkek, the range country governments formally endorsed a plan to develop a global snow leopard population assessment. The ambitious initiative, called Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopards, or, in short, PAWS aims to produce a robust estimate of the threatened cat’s population status within the next 5 years.

The GSLEP secretariat has been tasked with coordinating this initiative, and has developed an Action Plan which has been approved by the GSLEP Steering Committee. PAWS aims to bring together the global snow leopard conservation community’s resources, manpower and expertise to jointly arrive at a scientifically robust population estimate.

One major focus of PAWS – and a condition for its success – is the establishment of agreed-upon best practices and protocols for data collection and management for population assessment. This includes undertaking new studies as well as the inclusion of existing abundance data into a global estimate. A panel of technical experts will support this process, and will invite feedback and input from all partners. Based on these agreed-upon protocols, on-the-ground data collection and analysis will be carried out according to their capacity by the various PAWS partners – conservation organizations, government bodies and academic institutions working across the different habitat zones and countries.

Interested in learning more about PAWS? Dr. David Borchers and Dr. Koustubh Sharma, take us through the Why and the How of assessing the global snow leopard population. We discover the story of why (and when) the initiative of Population Assessment of the World’s Snow leopards (PAWS) emerged. We then discuss how PAWS can be achieved, including key ideas of spatial capture-recapture (SCR) and the power of SCR to analyse survey data.

For any questions about PAWS, please email us directly at

Understanding PAWS 

PAWS Process
To achieve the main objective of PAWS – arriving at a reliable snow leopard population estimate – a two-stage process has been identified by the technical and oversight panel that was set up by the GSLEP Steering Committee: Assessing snow leopard distribution, and estimating snow leopard abundance.

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Technical Advisory Panel
A Technical Advisory Panel, comprising of leading snow leopard scientists, statisticians, and a representative of the GSLEP National Focal Points, will supervise and provide scientific guidance to PAWS.

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PAWS Resources

The GSLEP Secretariat and various partners have created a number of tools that are intended to help snow leopard scientists collect and analyze population data more effectively and efficiently.

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Contribute to PAWS
We would like to invite organizations interested in contributing to PAWS to join this initiative as partners. Please get in touch with us if you have data or expertise to contribute to this initiative.

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