Harmony in Peril:
Exploring Climate Change, the Biodiversity Crisis,
and the Fate of the Snow Leopard

Artwork & Poetry Contest – 2023


 Adult 18 & Over

A Melting Paradise

by Anne Curtis


A paradise it was, the Himalaya
I fell in love a half century ago
with soaring peaks and glittering lakes
and plumes of snow blowing from the summits.

I climbed through deep valleys and gorges etched by rivers
and through pine and rhododendron forests
where strings of ponies sported red plumes and clanging bells
Wild roses and willows grew in dry creek beds.

I saw thorny, blue poppies
on a dry and scrubby hillside
where little puffs of dust rose with every step
and disappeared into the cold wind.

With reverence, I visited gompas perched on cliffs
their shrine rooms opulent and full of history
Curious, shy children laughed with me
while their families tended yaks.

I fell in love with thin air, expansive views and shining peaks
The majestic guardian that is the elusive snow leopard
was often in my thoughts
though never seen.


Now the climate shifts
Glaciers melt, permafrost warms
The ground dries
and tender green meadow grass dies.

Blue sheep tear at clumps of tough grass
Their numbers may dwindle
A hungry snow leopard takes a yak
Herder and animal conflicts may rise.

My love is a forlorn love now
yet I do not feel betrayed
for this is not the fault of paradise
nor of the splendid snow leopard that is its guardian.

I am saddened by changes that we seemingly cannot prevent
Species will disappear from the Himalaya
causing disruption in a finely balanced world
What will become of the snow leopards, the flowers, and the children?

Yes, I am saddened and afraid
that paradise may shrivel and die
Unless, like a beautiful snow leopard poised on a rocky cliff
we can balance our needs now with those of a future world.

Ghost of the Mountains

by Neil Mukherjee

I live amidst the Mountains of the East
If you are lucky to see me, know that
You may never see me ever again.

I am the Grey Ghost of the Mountains
Protector, Traveler, and Adventurer.

As I set out across the
The mountains, I set myself
The challenge to live or die.

I am a lover, a protector of my family
Yet the world I share with you
Is becoming more of yours and
Less of mine.

As I battle against the elements
Of Wind, Water, Heat, and Earth,
My life is placed on a thin thread,
Living on the edge of existence.

I am the spirit of the mountains,
King of my Domain and I
Witness the changes in my landscape.

Sometimes the Winters are warm;
The winter Ice around me is melting,
The snow is patchy in parts.
And the Summers are dry.

I live and die for the hunt,
But the Goats and Blue Sheep
Come and go or die of starvation.

Sometimes they pause as they
Capture a glimpse of me
Knowing it may be their last
Look before I strike for my

I am at risk when they stop
coming my way or when
I search and I find
Nothing in sight.

Some Humans enjoy the sport of the hunt;
Be warned for what you will do…
For my life is as precious as yours.

Ask yourself, what is it you seek within,
Your beating heart for the Ghost of the
Mountains will reign Over you,
Reminding you with each
Passing day that we are
Equally destined on this planet.

We share the same air and we
We live, love, and die on this
same world.

If you attack me, you shall be haunted
by my spirit that will find you
For every hostile move
you make.

Be warned, I am the Snow Leopard
Of the East; Spirit of the Mountains
Protector, Traveler, Observer
As I witness the fall of our world
In your hands…

Snowy Wonderment

by Julie M. Smith

Mountain Majestic

by Julie M. Smith

Their beauty is of admiration,
Hopes in nature is their inspiration

Wonders of snow on the peaks,
Is what they hope to find and seek

Thoughts of days in the cold air,
Now is warmed with despair

Visions of water flow in their minds,
Getting only harder to drink and find

Belief that food will be there,
Not fortunate to be found anywhere

Dreams to watch small ones grow,
Only time will let them know

Their beauty is of admiration,
Hopes in nature now in stagnation.

There is beauty in the mountains,
If you wish to see it

Paw prints line the snowy blanket,
Slowly disappearing into the thicket

Soft fur waiting for a cool breeze,
Quickly warms up due to no freeze

Water flows in abundance at first,
Reduced to a trickle to quench a thirst

Food scampers and hides all around,
Only now nowhere to be found

Little ones will soon be here,
May not live to see next year

There is beauty in the mountains,
Though you may not see it.


by Sandra McEwen

The Last Supper of the Snow Leopard

by Sarah Mills

Oh wise one of the icy heights,
with frosty forehead and gleaming eyes,
with startling contrast of toughness and magnificence –
what secrets have your ancestors learnt
and passed on to you now?

They’re in your ease of quiet stealth,
in your hurtling effortlessly
down harsh, stony slopes.
And in your remarkable resilience
in the face of earth’s ecologies fraying
and the challenges of changing climate.

Still, you will never be deterred
from your ineffable persistence.
For you are one with your mountains,
as steadfast as the hills.
You have always prevailed,
your guttural growls eternally echoing.

And you will always continue your timeless struggle,
in the toughness and magnificence that is also Life itself.

There exists a mural on a mountainside,
One depicting the solemnest scene,
A table headed by a holy cat
Where all about him animals convene.
Few of his disciples remain for the meal
Save for the brethren who know him the best
But amongst the marmot, pika and hare
There is one that sits in shadow from the rest.
This figure has locks of treasonous red
Symbolizing the rising heat,
The darkness tells of who’ll betray
With an act of pure deceit.
In the figure’s hand a bag is held
Containing the flakes of silver snows,
The argent springs, streams, and ponds,
The degradation of lush meadows.
His head is bowed as the tree line soars,
As the livestock take over sacred ground,
His elbow lies on the lowered table
Of water sources scarcely found.
At the apex of this somber drama
The ounce announces his fate to be,
All line and life converge with him,
The vanishing point: biodiversity.

The Orison of the Ounce

by Sarah Mills

A Virus Offered A Pause

by Emma Lee

Spotted cat of mystery who by chance
Was exiled to the farthest reaches,
What can you teach us
Of beauty and balance?
You who have concord with bharal and boar
And the goat-like creatures of tahr and markhor,
How will your kingdom fare before
Your very existence disappears like the mists?
It seems every time I look into those eyes
They pounce upon my conscience whole,
Leaving these endangered paw prints
Etched deep into my alpine soul.
They seem omniscient as though they know
That I can halt the melting snow,
The rising tree line, the dwindling range,
The predator known as climate change.
And yet for all the guilt I feel
They do not judge me, only appeal:
“Where are the ibex and argali?
The rivers that once ran in harmony?
Why are my friends the fragmented foe?
Why is danger on high not seen from below?
For you and I are imperiled the same,
My world is also your world to reclaim.”
Then he turns away from our locked gaze
But there is no home where the livestock graze
And so his rosettes blend into night,
His fur feeding into white starlight,
Our planet never again to see those eyes
Arrest even the rays of a Himalayan sunrise.

Something different happened to the people.
Something has lowered the water table.
Worryingly the permafrost retreated.
But mountains now visible, fog lifted.
Drinking spots dry up. Grass overtakes meadow.
When to fall, how to fall, the snow doesn’t know.
The treeline rises, meaning there’s less prey,
our space shrinks, so smaller territory.
In time I’ll be reduced to babies from babies.
Smaller gene pool cuts probabilities,
threatens our survival. Small habitats
fragmented, no bridges to find a mate.
There’s still chance to make alternative plans.
Something different happened to the humans.

Something different happened to the humans.
There’s still chance to make alternative plans.
Fragmented, no bridges to find a mate,
threatens our survival. Small habitats,
smaller gene pool, cuts probabilities.
In time I’ll be reduced to babies from babies.
our space shrinks so smaller territory,
the treeline rises, meaning there’s less prey.
When to fall, how to fall, the snow doesn’t know.
drinking spots dry up, grass overtakes meadow
Worryingly the permafrost retreated,
But mountains now visible, fog lifted.
Something has lowered the water table
Something different happened to the people.

As One

by Lubomira Kourteva

Mountain Ghosts

by Nitya Nedyam

Perhaps I am part animal part human
With a voice from a time before time beyond time
With a language perhaps not as well understood by all
But never quite fully unspoken

To some I am foreign, elusive, and quiet
But my quietness only speaks that I still exist
That I roam freely our earth
That I walk freely the intuitive landscapes where others rarely step

But am I not like you?
Paws are hands for they still give and take
And eyes are always eyes, spirit is imbued in everything
And we all walk our unique physical, emotional and spiritual wildlands
The outer and the inner ones

Emotions connect us
Movements connect us
And by your own hands’ love I may continue to be

May I continue to walk mountains, not bricks
May water be water true, not mirage
May meadows be color alive, not grasslands

May you carry me in your intentions and conscious gestures
In our togetherness as we share
Our earth, this heaven beneath heavens

For even when our languages are different
We meet always
We connect always

We live together as one in our world
Part animal part human

Up high in the Himalayas, a broad paw
strides across melting snow without

sinking; followed by a second paw, then
a third and a fourth. In as many days

its solitude had been disturbed by a
pack of yelping –

The snow leopard did not know what
they were called. The vocabulary of

its world was changing. Daily, streams
emerge from what was just ice. The tree

line inches closer and closer, smothering
the crevices of its rocky home. The blue

sheep’s dying whispers were now about
humans: a two-legged animal that killed

even when it was no longer hungry. The
snow leopard dismissed these as stories,

as myths. For now, it only saw snapping
four-legged creatures, yapping in weak

attempts to steal the leopard’s kill. As a
cub, it had never seen wild dogs in this

winter terrain. Now they were frequent
visitors, unwelcome portends of an

endless spring –

Snow Leopard Eyes

by Janice Holland

S triking and sensational
N oble and inspirational
O therwordly and ethereal
W ild and mercurial

L yrically graceful
E xotically delightful
O ptimistically hopeful
P oetically beautiful
A chingly soulful
R adiantly powerful
D ivinely wonderful

E manating mysticality
Y earning for humanity
E ncouraging sagacity
S eeing the potentiality

The Snow Leopard’s Paradise

by Anne Curtis

Long tail switching lazily
the snow leopard looks down from the cliff top
Snowflakes drift down even in summer
sprinkling her dense fur with white
adding another dimension to the smoke rings on her coat.


The storm cloud passes
and in the distance are mountain peaks
which shimmer in the sun
A lake glitters at the foot of a talus slope
And jewel-like flowers punctuate the meadow grass.


This beauty is irrelevant to the snow leopard
focused on a flock of bharal grazing the meadow grass below
Soon she will make a move toward them
She lives a tough, though picturesque existence
and has lived this way seemingly forever.


Her beautiful world has borders
The mountains and the cliffs and the canyons
the bharal and the sweet meadow grass
Well adapted to life in the high mountains
the snow leopard does not venture beyond these boundaries.


Outside these bounds is another world
A world where the air is hazy with smoke and dust
Where human activity has caused warming temperatures
Future changes are difficult to fathom
and time is running out.


Glaciers melt, permafrost thaws, and the ground dries
Now the bharal’s favorite meadow grass forms tough clumps
If the bharal and the goats and the marmots grow scarce
the snow leopard’s numbers may dwindle
or she may migrate in search of another paradise.


For the outside world impacts the realm of the snow leopard
Change is happening incrementally, but ever faster and faster
as if the four grounding corners of a mandala have begun rotating
and are now spinning wildly out-of-control
Only humans can save the snow leopard’s paradise now.


Youth 11 & Under

Living In My Natural Paradise

by Kuhu Kacher

I am someone Extraordinary!
Not anyone in the ordinary

Come to the mountains
When you want to see me

Living here in paradise
Oo ooo

Yeah! It is just so true!
Come and meet me

In the snowy mountains
Soaring so high!

I am someone Extraordinary!
Not anyone in the ordinary

I am living in Serene Peace
Having fun in the high ranges

Showing everyone
You don’t need to count
All the mice

I am someone Extraordinary!
Not anyone in the ordinary

The past is gone
The present is here

Don’t tell me what not to fear
The future is going to be a sphere

Oo ooo

Don’t you dare,
Sneer at me

You know, this
is a tropical paradise

One day I will fly
Above the sky (signifying mountains)

It would give me a boost

No one would know it was me
Cos it’s my dream

To be always living in (come what may)
My natural paradise

A Leopard of Snow

by Hanna Amelie Rae Dribinski

A leopard of snow
Slips through the night
With the auroras’ show
Shining its light.

A figure silver-gray
Dances with the chilly breeze
Searching for prey
Beneath the deep freeze.

This mountainous terrain
Is what this snow leopard calls home
It is enough to sustain
As the leopard comes out to roam.

Though as humans hunt these creatures
Their population will decline
Because of their extravagant features
Their fur is considered quite fine.

Humans need to make a demand
To right their wrongs
They must understand:
The mountains are where a snow leopard belongs.

Reproduction of art and literary works appearing on this website is permitted for educational purposes. Reproductions should be credited appropriately to the various authors and/or artists.

For reproduction of art and/or literary works appearing on this website for any other purpose than educational, please contact the Snow Leopard Conservancy at shavaun@snowleopardconservancy.org or info@snowleopardconservancy.org in order that we might obtain special permission from the individual authors and/or artists.