Understand The Animals

Snow Leopard

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia
Home: At high altitudes in coniferous forests of the Himalayan and Altai mountains to Mexico
Description: Soft gray fur with dark black-brown spots, a yard-long furry tail, large paws
Status: Endangered

The snow leopard, also known as the Ounce, is found primarily in the mountainous regions of Central Asia--particularly in the Himalayas. This Animal can inhabit lands upto 20,000 feet high. The large cat hunts its prey through the rocky grasslands. The typical diet for this species is wild sheep(Bharal and Argali), goats(Markhor and Ibex), Musk deer, marmots, various species of rabbits and birds. The snow leopards most distinctive characteristic is its beautiful, thick coat. This coat is grey in color, with brownish/yellow hues and black rosettes. The fur is long and woolly to protect this cat from the harsh climates of its habitat.

The increase of human settlement in Central Asia has become a major threat to these animals. The increase of human population growth forces Snow Leopards to compete with man and livestock for living space and food supply. The rapid deterioration of the Snow Leopard's habitat drives the animal to hunt domestic livestock for survival. In turn, herders are hunting Snow Leopards to prevent losses. Also the increase of agriculture in this area disturbs the ecosystem which supports the Snow Leopard.

As a consequence to this, it is becoming more difficult for the Snow Leopard to maintain its existence. This poses as a major threat to the population of Snow Leopards. Although the Snow Leopard and the Leopard have similar rosettes and broken-spot markings, the Snow Leopard's fur is quite unique.

The spots of this animal are not as well-defined as a Leopard's, and also they are spaced further apart. The fur of this endangered species is long and woolly to accommodate for the harsh climates of its habitat. Because of the beauty of this animals coat, many are hunted for the sole purpose of fur-trading. Although the trading of their pelts has been banned in most countries, these gorgeous creatures are still being illegally trapped and hunted.

photo taken fromhttp://www.pbs.org/kratts/world/eurasia/leopard/

 Snow leopards have been spotted at heights as much as 6000 meters in summer. That's only a couple thousand meters short of climbing Mt. Everest! Snow leopards are superb leapers.

They can spring and pounce on prey that's up to 45 feet away! Furry feet help snow leopards stay on top of the snow by providing a greater surface area . The fur keeps their paws warm and dry, and provides some snow-traction too! In India, the elusive snow leopards have been photographed and filmed by the Bedi Brothers.

Contributed by Richa Maurya, member, IndianWildlifeClub.com




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