(This year's Winter Olympics, however, are not without animal welfare concerns. The IOC recently drew criticism after Sochi Aquatoria confirmed that it would feature two captive orcas during the upcoming games; thousands of people have since signed multiple petitions urging the IOC to release the captured whales back into the wild.)
"All the more attention to the plight of [snow leopards] is good," Gibbs told Public Radio International. "The challenge, of course, is then transferring and converting that goodwill and that attention into resources that actually get down to the level where they're really needed to make a difference."
According to Gibbs, poaching has decimated Russia's snow leopard population over time; he suspects there are no more than 40 snow leopards in the entire country. Other parts of Central Asia are home to greater numbers of the wildcats, though the population is as low as 2,000 to 4,000 snow leopards worldwide. In Pakistan, where Bischof and his team study them, snow leopards are more numerous and, in theory, easier to study. But their elusive nature can actually hinder conservation efforts.