The Mongolian snow leopard population is 2nd largest in the world, with about 1000 individuals; distributed in Mongolian Altai, Gobi Altai, Khangai mountain ranges, Harhiraa and Turgen mountains, near oasis, in low elevation mountains and hills of Trans-Altai Gobi and southern edge of Sayan Mountain.
The total area occupied by snow leopards in Mongolia is approximately 103,000 km2. The species is included in the Mongolian Red Data Book (1987, 1997, 2013) and protected as very rare by Mongolian Law of Fauna.
The habitats of snow leopards in Mongolia represent a set of different ecosystems in the elevation range from 600 and 4200 m above sea level. Optimal snow leopard habitat in Mongolia is located within very broken and moderately broken terrains in the mountains with clearly defined ridge lines and massive cliffs. Siberian ibex inhabits these areas as well as other ungulates – the snow leopard’s main prey.
In addition to traversing open slopes, snow leopards travel and hunt in the edge scarce forests for red deer, roe deer, wild boar, hare etc. Marmots and snow cock are important prey of snow leopards in high mountains.
Since it is a top predator of the mountain ecosystem of Mongolia and Central Asia, it is an umbrella species for conservation of other species and habitats in mountain-steppe, mountain-tundra and mountain-forest-steppes, including livestock husbandry, cultivated here since ancient times and that are vital to the survival of nomadic herders.
These habitats have been used for livestock pasture for thousands of years and income from livestock products is the main source of income of nomadic herders in Mongolia. Money from sale of 4.5 tons of cashmere provides herders of 21 provinces with about 205 million USD each year; 1/3 of this cashmere is collected in areas with snow leopards.
Until the 1990s, the areas were also rich in hunting resources, unfortunately during the decade after the collapse of socialism in Mongolia when the border with China was opened, many species of wildlife were hunted without any management and illegally exported for use in eastern medicine.
Springs started in these mountains form the biggest rivers and lakes in Mongolia and Russia, go to northern ice ocean. Glaciers play an important role in regional climate regulation and water balance of mountain rivers. Also snow leopard habitats represent excellent recreation areas and potential for tourism development, including ecotourism, rafting, trekking, horse riding and climbing.
For many Asian people the snow leopard is a symbol of strength, nobility, and power. The preservation of Mongolian population of snow leopards is an important component of efforts to save and recover the Russian population of the species in the northern edge and maintain gene flow with the Chinese snow leopard populations in the south.
National Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Plan:
Download as PDF: Mongolia_NSLEP
Honorable Mr. Tserenbat Namsrais
Ministry of Environment and Tourism
Designated National Focal Points:
Mr. Bariushaa Munkhtsog
Senior Researcher Institute of Biology, Mongolian Academy of Sciences