By: Jessica Cobb
The snow leopard lives in Central Asia preferring the mountain ranges. Due to the habitat location coniferous trees cover the forests. In the winter they travel to lower grounds to find prey. Sometimes the prey weighs up to three times their weight, the leopard regularly eats arkhar, sheep, goats, markhor, deer, marmonts and other small rodents. Most active during the dark hours these cats kill an average of one large animal twice a month. Leopards are not strict carnivores, they also eat twigs, grass, and other vegetation.
The snow leopard is endangered because of population decrease by over grazing by domestic livestock, poaching, and defense of livestock. Snow leopards hunt to eat and otherwise are the least aggressive of all big cats, with no reported attack of humans; therefore, easily pushed away from lives stock and abandoned their prey when threatened. Snow leopards fur was once sought after as a fashion aspect. About 1,000 pelts were traded in the 1920's. The bones of leopards were once high priority in asian medicine tradition. Loss of habitat effects the snow leopards, as it does to every other animal with humans urbanizing all of the land. With help from all of the organizations, snow leopards population has been brought up from almost extinct, 1,000 in the 1960's, to endangered with a total of 6,000 snow leopards total.
A species with a large role in its environment effects the health of its habitat as a whole. Being one of the top predators in the high mountain’s food web, the snow leopard keeps the ecosystem balanced by eating the animals that would quickly over populate Central Asia. If there are too many herbivores in the area, they will overgraze vegetation. Just like the wolves in Yellow Stone Park, if Snow Leopards disappear from the area, the ecosystem will fall apart. Although getting rid of hunting snow leopards will negatively effect the economy, the effect on the environment will be much more dramatic after they are gone.
- Conservation International
- Flora and Fauna International (FFI)
- IUCN Cat Specialist Group
- Felidae Conservation Fund
- International Snow Leopard Trust (ISLT)
- NABU (German Language Site)
- Pacific Environment
- Plateau Perspectives
- Sacred Earth Network (SEN)
- Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC)
- The Mountain Institute
- The Nature Conservancy - Yunnan, China Project
- The World Conservation Union (IUCN)
- Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS)
- Wildlife Watch Group
- Woodland Park Zoo
- World Wildlife Fund-UK