Tshewang Wangchuk


SCA 1990, Yosemite National Park

“Climate change, urban pollution and biodiversity loss all stem from increasing human greed and materialism.”

Growing up in Bhutan, Tshewang Wangchuk long assumed he would become a monk.  Today, however, the SCA alumnus is executive director of the Bhutan Foundation, a National Geographic explorer and one of the world’s leading experts on endangered snow leopards.   

“Spending a summer with SCA as a backcountry ranger in Yosemite was my first real connection with the great outdoors, all on my own,” Tshewang says.  “It taught me a lot about how much there is to enjoy in nature. I always enjoyed the multi-day hikes monitoring campsites and trails, especially in the high country around Tuolomne Meadows.” 

Only 6,000 snow leopards remain in the mountains of Central Asia, their population impacted by poachers as well as declining prey and habitats.  Yet in assessing the world environment, Tshewang tells SCA he is optimistic.  “The innate goodness in humankind offers hope for any hopeless situation,” he states. “My biggest concern at the moment is climate change, increasing pollution of major urban areas, and rapid biodiversity loss – all stemming from increasing human greed and materialism.”

A resident of Washington, D.C., Tshewang often seeks refuge in the higher elevations.  “In the Himalayas at home in Bhutan, the Rockies, any mountainous areas,” he says, “because great mountains remind me of the insignificance of humans in the face of nature.”

Tshewang Wangchuck discusses his biggest hero, favorite pastime and passion for snow leopards in this Q&A with National Geographic. And learn more about his big cat conservation efforts on the snow leopard blog

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