Snow leopards are an endangered species. Poaching has decimated the population in Kyrgyzstan over the last 30 years - from 1,400 to an estimated 300. A German nature conservation group, NABU, runs a Kyrgyzstan sanctuary for snow leopards.
NABU and the Kyrgyz government train wildlife wardens to patrol the mountains and high plateaus. They track down poachers and seek to put them out of business, and they bring injured or helpless leopards to their spacious sanctuary, where they are looked after and can live in peace and safety. The Kyrgyz call the beautiful cats the "spirits of the mountains”.