The snow leopard is usually found above the tree line and permanent snow in central Asia's dry mountainous country. While it is not known exactly how many snow leopards live in their natural habitat, the population of the species is considered in decline, and in many places they are rare. Humans are the principal threat to their survival, mainly because of loss of habitat from the expansion of human populations. Humans have also hunted the snow leopard for sport, destroyed the animal as a predator of domestic flocks, and sought the large cat for its fur.
In 2000, more than 550 snow leopards were living in zoos, where they have been bred successfully. The snow leopard is listed as an endangered species and is legally protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora. In some places, however, enforcement of regulations is difficult. Reserves have been set aside for both the cat and its prey species.
An average male snow leopard will weigh about 45 to 55 kg (100 to 120 lb.), and a female 35 to 40 kg (75 to 90 lb.).