It is quite difficult to describe Snow Leopards, as scientists have not fully understood what type of cat family they belong to. The snow leopard is a large predator of the cat family, very cute, graceful as a Panther, and very much like a leopard. At the thought of the snow leopard in front of the eyes appears soft, fluffy kitten with an admixture of a predatory tiger.
- The scientific name of the Snow Leopard is uncia.
Snow Leopard belongs to a genus of big cats which includes lions, jaguars, tigers, and leopards. The word “uncia” derived from the old French word “once”. Originally, it was the name for the lynx. Another name of snow leopard — IRBIS, which translates in Turkic language as “snow cat”.
- Snow leopards are the only cats that have adapted to live in the harsh conditions of the highlands.
They can be found that the maximum height at 197 feet (6000 meters). However, usually, they live at an altitude of 4920-16500 feet (1500-4000 meters) above sea level.
- October 23-International snow leopard day.
The world forum on snow leopard conservation held in October 2013 in Bishkek, marked the beginning of a new holiday – International Snow Leopard Day. The holiday is celebrated every year on October 23.
- A small weakness of snow leopards.
Unlike tigers, lions, and leopards, the snow leopard can purr, chuff, growl, hiss, mew, and wail but cannot roar.
- Snow leopards can jump incredible to an incredible distance.
The Snow leopard is considered the record holder among cats as far as jumping concerned. Snow leopards can jump up to 19 feet (6 meters) in length and 10 feet (3 meters) in height.
- Snow leopards have a pretty long tail.
The long tail helps a snow leopard to keep the balance during the jump. The total length of the snow leopard reaches 90 inches (230 centimeters) when you include its tail. Besides, a snow leopard uses its long tail to cover its face while resting.
- Snow leopard got big paws.
Due to the big paws, they can walk comfortably even on snow without sinking to the bottom.
- Snow leopards are solitary animals
They unite in pairs only for a very short breeding period. Their cubs will stay with their mothers for at least 18 months. When they leave the care, they may never meet again. Once they get old enough, they start to roam the vast mountain on their own.
- A female snow leopard can bear cubs twice a year.
Its embryo develops within 93 to 110 days. The mating season usually occurs at the end of the winter months between December and March.
- Babies of snow leopard love to slide over the snow hills just like children.
Snow leopard cubs love to play, especially they like to roll around in the snow. The most exciting entertainment for them — roll over the snow hill. At the bottom, they quickly turn over and fall into a snowdrift on all four legs.
- The life expectancy of snow leopards is between 15-18 years.
In the wild, snow leopards live somewhere between 15-18 years. In captivity, they live up to 25 years, which is higher compared to the life expectancy of most other large cats. There was a recorded case where a female snow leopard lived 28 years.
- Blue sheep and ibex are the snow leopards’ favorite meals.
Also, snow leopards hunt the following animals: Siberian mountain goats, marals, deer, roe deer, Himalayan Tara, wild boars. In times of famine, leopards hunt smaller prey, such as gophers, hares, birds (pheasants, mountain turkeys).
- The fur of the snow leopard allows them to remain inconspicuous among the rocks.
The coat color of the snow leopard varies from light gray-to-gray smoky color; the belly is a creamy yellow with white shade color. The entire body of the snow leopard covered with gray-black spots that surround the black rings. Larger spots and rings surrounding them found only on the body and tail, while solid spots are common on the head, neck and lower limbs.
- The snow leopard is a very secretive creature; it is very rare to find them in their habitat.
As mentioned earlier, snow leopards are poorly-studied animals. Researchers can’t easily find them in their habitat which complicates the research. However, some researchers utilize modern technologies such as automatic cameras (photo traps). They install those technologies in snow leopards’ habitats to assess their population in nature.
- Snow leopards are hard to meet.
Snow leopards are nomads; they can constantly on the move. They can travel areas up to 60 miles (100km) in radius. One more reason is that they are predominantly nocturnal; they prefer to sleep in the daytime and come out during the night.
- Snow leopards are smart hunters
They track their prey with the help of their sensitive nose. They camouflage themselves among the rocks. That tactic allows them to stay until their prey comes close. At the right moment, snow leopards catch the prey using their outstanding jumping ability. During the hunting process, snow leopards also use their tail to keep their balance while running and jumping. After killing the prey, the leopard can drag it to a long distance.
- Snow leopards do not attack people.
That is because they do not regard them as prey. They regarded as the least aggressive to humans compared to all other big cats.
- These animals can easily get used to humans.
They can be tamed without any problems and difficulties. However, they should be tamed from a young age.
- Today, there are only about 4,500 – 8,500 snow leopards left in the world.
Protecting this rare species involves three primary measures: preserving their ecosystems, protecting against poachers and local communities that exterminate snow leopards to protect their livestock, and mitigating the impact of climate change and ever-expanding human settlements.
- Snow leopards like to protect their territory
Each of them strictly protects their areas. But, compared to other representatives of their species, they defend the territory less aggressively.
- Since ancient times, humans hunted snow leopards for their valuable fur.
The outfits made of the snow leopards’ fur was very popular for a long time. Although hunting is forbidden, products made from their fur are found on sale in Mongolia, China, and Thailand.
- To preserve the snow leopard population, about 2000 snow leopards are being held in captivity.
In captivity, snow leopards live and reproduce successfully, which gives hope for a possible early recovery of their population in natural conditions.
- Snow leopards live only in one continent – Asia.
They can be found in the following countries: Bhutan, China, India, Afghanistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Mongolia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. It is believed that 50 % of them live in China.
- According to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (2017), the population of snow leopards is no longer an endangered species.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources removed the snow leopard from the list of endangered species on September 14, 2017. Currently, they remain in the category of vulnerable species
- The snow leopard considered a symbol of valor, courage, and strength.
Image of the snow leopard served as a magical talisman, guardian of the ancient warriors of Asia.