Snow Leopard: Important Facts at a Glance
The snow leopard (Panthera uncia syn. Uncia uncia) is a large cat inhabitant of mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. It is listed as endangered species in the IUCN Red List. The global population of these leopards was estimated at 4,080–6,590 adults in 2013, of which fewer than 2,500 individuals may reproduce in the wild. These leopards are able to jump as far as 50 feet (15 meters).
Location of snow leopard:
Picture of snow leopard:
Facts about snow leopard:
1. Snow leopards are found at altitudes between 9,800 and 17,000 feet in the high, mountains of Central Asia. They are scattered from Afghanistan to Kazakstan and Russia in the north to India and China in the east. China has about 60% of snow leopard habitat. These leopards have already disappeared from certain parts of Mongolia, which used to be the main inhabitant of this cat.
2. It is listed as endangered on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
3. As of latest estimates, global population of leopards left near about 4,080–6,590 adults, of which fewer than 2,500 individuals may reproduce in the wild.
4. The snow leopard is the National Heritage Animal of Afghanistan and Pakistan.
5. Taxonomically, the snow leopard was classified as Uncia uncia since the early 1930s.
6. Snow leopards eat blue sheep (bharal) of Tibet and the Himalaya.
7. Though these powerful predators can kill animals three times heavier than their weight. They also eat smaller fare, such as marmots, hares, and game birds.
8. The number of these leopards is declining due to poaching driven by illegal trades for body parts which are used for traditional Chinese medicine.
9. Snow leopards are slightly smaller than the other big cats but like them, exhibit a range of sizes, generally weighing between 27 and 55 kg.
10. Snow leopards show several adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous environment. Their bodies are stocky, their fur is thick, and their ears are small and rounded, all of which help to minimize heat loss.
11. Unlike other big cats, snow leopards are unable to roar.
Snow leopards prefer to inhabit steep cliff areas, rocky outcrops and ravines. Such habitats provide them camouflage to kill prey. They stalk their prey and usually attack from a distance of 20 - 50 feet. Their long and powerful hind limbs help snow leopards to leap up to 30 feet, which is six times their body length.
Did You Know?
Snow leopards have light green or gray eyes, unusual for big cats, which usually have yellow or gold eyes.
Snow leopards are active at dawn and dusk and rarely seen in the wild. Unlike other big cats, snow leopards are unable to roar. Solitary in nature, they pair only during the breeding season.
Mating Season: Between January and mid-March.
Gestation: period 3-3 ½ months.
Litter size: 2-3 cubs.
Females give birth in rocky dens lined with their fur. The young follow their mother on hunts at three months and remain with her through their first winter.