Snow Leopards

Endangered Animals of Asia

Snow leopards have always been hunted for their beautiful fur, bones, and other body parts. However, they have been disappearing one by one at the hands of poachers, loss of habitat and prey, and retribution killings. These majestic creatures may soon be gone, and they need your help. Please consider donating to the Endangered Animal Foundation for the sake of the endangered snow leopard. (PP)

Description

The snow leopard is classified as a mammal, and its body is covered by thick, warm fur. Their bodies usually grow to be 3 to 5 feet in length, and their tails are 80 - 100 centimeters long. They can weigh from 60 to 120 pounds. A snow leopard's fur is usually gray, with dark grey and black rosettes and spots. They have wide, fur-covered feet, and an enlarged nasal cavity. These leopards have powerful legs that allow them to jump as far as 50 feet. With short forelimbs and long hind limbs, a snow leopard is very agile in its steep and rugged habitat. They communicate by leaving markings on the landscape and scraping the ground with their hind legs. Some sounds they make are purring, mewing, hissing, growling, moaning, and yowling. Snow leopards are unable to roar, but they make a non-aggressive puffing sound called a "chuff". (RL) (NG) (AK) (SL) (PP)

Habitat

Snow leopards can mainly be found in the high mountains of Central Asia and Mongolia. They live in steep terrain among landforms such as cliffs, ridges, gullies, rocks, and stone outcrops. These areas have low temperatures and high aridity. It is cold and dry, with only small plants and minimal vegetation. However, snow leopards are nomadic, and do not stay in the same place. In summer, they climb high on bare rock, and in winter, they prowl the forests below. (MM) (RL) (SL) (PP)

Food Chain

Snow leopards are carnivorous predators. They primarily prey upon wild sheep and goats, especially Himalayan blue sheep and mountain ibex. They also eat smaller animals, and as opportunistic creatures, may even eat domestic animals. They eat slowly, often taking 3 - 4 days to eat one animal. They can kill animals three times their weight. Additionally, snow leopards eat a surprising amount of grass, twigs, and vegetation. (NG) (AK) (PP)

Adaptation

Snow leopards protect themselves by camouflaging, as their fur pattern easily blends into the surrounding rocks. Their small, round ears reduce heat loss, and their wide, short nasal cavity warms the air before it enters the sensitive lungs. Their large paws act as natural snowshoes to prevent them from sinking into the snow. These large cats have thick, dense, warm fur that provide warmth in the cold, which helps them as nomadic travelers. Snow leopards sneak up on their prey, and have strong legs to jump. (SL) (PP)

Threats & Conservation Efforts

Snow leopards are mainly endangered due to habitat and prey base loss, poaching, persecution, and retribution killings. They are also being killed due to conflict with local people and lack of conservation capacity, policy, and awareness. A few other ways snow leopards are dying are mining, since the chemicals can be toxic, and when domestic animals overgraze, reducing food for snow leopard prey. Some conservation actions prepared are legal protection and grants like CITES and EOCA. The Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Conservancy are leading organizations in research, data storage, initiatives, and community based conservation, all focusing on saving these majestic cats. (RL) (SL) (AK) (PP)
Snow Leopards at Twycross

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