KATHMANDU -- High in Nepal's eastern Himalayan mountains, bordering India and China, the elusive snow leopard is fighting a battle for survival against habitat loss, poachers and a lack of prey. But an international conservation initiative and an innovative insurance program in Nepal offer some hope for the future.
Conservationists regard the survival of snow leopards as crucial to biodiversity. Standing at the top of the food chain in some of the most remote and highest places on earth, they are an indicator of the health of flora and fauna in vast mountain and alpine ranges. Yet experts say there are only between 3,500 and 7,000 wild snow leopards left, including 350-500 in Nepal.