The soft extra dense fur with tones of creamy yellowish or gray and covered with blackish gray rosettes make this “ghost of mountains” virtually invisible in its frosty mountain home.
Elusive and shy, the most iconic feline of high Asia inhabits 12 countries’ mountain ranges, between 3,000m- 5,000m (10,000 – 16,500 feet) above sea level (but can go as low as 500m or 1,600 feet) across Central and South Asia.
They are designed for hunting in precipitous terrain and wild caprids- their favorite food! Despite being perfectly evolved and equipped to survive in the harshest icy mountains, they are on the verge of extinction. This decline is caused by humans killing them and diminishing natural prey.
Feb 2023: A potential conflict looms in the Himalayas as tigers and leopards venture into snow leopard territory as climate warms.
Nov 2022: Snow leopard countries have initiated new conservation programs to help preserve the species. At this meeting, esteemed members of the government, along with international conservation organizations, were in attendance. Additionally, species experts and statisticians were present.
Did you know?
- They have the longest tail of any felid, used as rudder while navigating and as a blanket when resting.
- They shed their fur (molting) twice a year
- Unlike other big cats, they do not roar to announce their presence; their sound box is not designed to roar.
- Can pounce/leap as much as 9m (30 ft) on those hardest frosty mountains!
- China and Eastern Europe are the biggest demand hub, fueling illegal trade.
- People kill 221–500 snow leopards annually; 55% of these are retaliatory killings over livestock depredation, and the rest are mostly poaching for fur or body parts.
- An increase in poaching for skins and body parts after the dissolution of the Soviet Union around 1991
- In February 2023, for the first time ever, a snow leopard has been spotted in Uttarakhand’s Darma Valley in India. This is the first recorded sighting of a snow leopard at these altitudes, as they are usually found at the height of more than 3.6 km (12,000 ft), while Dar village is located at nearly 3.4 km (11,120 ft).
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Terrestrial / Aquatic
Altricial / Precocial
Polygamous / Monogamous
Dimorphic / Monomorphic
Active: Diurnal / Nocturnal
Social behavior: Solitary / Pack / Herd
Diet: Carnivore / Herbivore / Omnivore / Piscivorous / Insectivore
Migratory: Yes / No
Domesticated: Yes / No
Dangerous: Yes / No