Little is known about the status of the snow leopard Panthera uncia in Qomolangma National Nature Reserve, located on the northern aspect of Mount Everest in Tibet. To address this, during May–September 2014 we conducted line transects, camera trapping, household interviews, and socioeconomic statistics analysis. We surveyed 14 transects and located 287 putative snow leopard signs, with a mean density of 1.9 sign sites km–1, 3.8 signs km–1, and 1.4 scrapes km–1. We set 41 camera traps and recorded a minimum of seven individual snow leopards. Our results were comparable to snow leopard abundance estimates for neighbouring protected areas in Nepal. Semi-structured interviews with 46 (59%) households found that local people were generally supportive of snow leopard conservation, for a variety of economic, legislative, and religious reasons. The socio-economic situation in the Reserve underwent dramatic changes between 2000 and 2014. The human population increased by 28.9%, the livestock population decreased by 9.9%, the number of tourists in 2014 was 6.8 times greater than in 2005, and the local gross domestic product underwent an annual increase of 15%. We discuss the current threats to snow leopards, and recommend that more rigorous, comprehensive, and interdisciplinary research be undertaken to provide an evidential basis for the formulation of effective conservation policies and programmes.
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