The first time I heard about a snow leopard was when I read about them in Zoobooks. I got the whole set of those magazines. I can’t remember if they had their own issue or it was one for big cats. All I remember is that they were said to have the greatest long jump of the big cats. Not sure why that stuck with me for years before I bothered to learn more about them.
Snow leopards are considered vulnerable with there being 4,000-6,500 left in the wild according to the WWF. As you can expect, they are poached for their beautiful furs, which look better on them than people. Human activity and climate change is fracturing their habitat as well. This puts them into conflict with humans and can result in retaliatory killings. This is when a snow leopard hunts a farmer’s livestock and is hunted down in response. Humans who do this live in very rural areas, so they only know that a predator is threatening their livelihood.
Education is a big part of protecting the snow leopards here. Groups have set up pens and protection for livestock in areas that have snow leopards. While doing this, they try to educate the locals about ways to stop the snow leopards without killing. This goes alongside breeding and monitoring programs, but the species is still declining due to climate change and dwindling prey numbers. So, they still have a really big uphill battle even after retaliatory killing and poaching is severely reduced.
So, what are some snow leopard facts?
- Their fur is thick to help keep them warm. It can be 5 cm thick on the back and 12 cm thick on the sides.
- Their long tail helps with balance and can be wrapped around them for added warmth.
- Snow leopards’ white with black rosettes pattern allows them to perfectly blend into the landscape. This is why they are called ‘Ghost of the Mountain’.
- They have short forelegs and long hindlegs to help with swiftly moving along steep cliffs and rocky terrain.
- They live in elevations around 3,000-4,500 meters.
- Instead of roaring like other big cats, they have a high-pitched yowling noise.
- Snow leopards have large, wide paws that act like natural snowshoes.
- Snow leopards can jump nearly six times their body length.
- Some have been found to have ranges up to 1,000 square kilometers and can travel around 40 kilometers in one night.
- They can get to 4 to 5 feet in length with a tail up to 3 feet long. They can weigh from 60 to 120 pounds.
- The snow leopard’s wide nose warms air before it reaches the lungs.
Let’s get to some the pictures and videos of these amazing animals. Found all pictures in a Google Image Search.