Facts You Might Be Curious About Wild Cats 2022: All About Snow Leopard


In taxonomy, he stands apart: between big cats (lions, leopards) and small ones, combining the qualities of both. With a weight of 30-40 kg and a body length of 100-130 cm, the snow leopard seems to be squat due to its elongated body, but this does not prevent it from jumping 2.5-3.0 meters in height. The thick and fluffy tail is slightly inferior in size to the body and spins in a jump, playing the role of a rudder, which is valuable on rocky placers that do not forgive an inaccurate landing. The main color of dense dense fur is smoky, whitish-gray, with a yellowish tinge on the back. Sharply protruding black spots on the head are small, ring-shaped on the neck, and on the body they blur, bifurcate and turn into rings.

Compared to other cats, he has a small head, but very large greenish-yellow eyes, with pronounced brow ridges. This allows him to hunt at dusk and at night, when all the animals in the mountains have taken refuge and are hiding somewhere. The mottled camouflage color makes the leopard completely invisible among the rocks, and if it does not move, then it completely merges with the landscape. He moves in the mountains on glaciers and talus completely silently, like a ghost. This is an excellent climber with fantastic coordination and jumping ability, able to climb a sheer wall and fall like lightning on the head of his victim. At the same time, he is a resident of high mountains, where ice lies all year round – frosts are off scale at 50 ° C.

Snow Leopard

Despite its name “snowy”, the leopard does not like high snow, in which it easily gets stuck, since it has short legs. Therefore, when high snows appear, he tramples constant paths or tries to go to sunny slopes, where an ice crust-crust forms. High and persistent snow cover can cause predators to starve and move to human settlements, where mountain dwellers keep livestock in the countryside. He usually attacks sheep and goats, sometimes pigs, but there were cases when this, in general, medium-sized, cat bullied horses!

Each leopard has its own hunting area in the mountains, where it does not allow strangers, and marks the borders with characteristic “scratches” and urine. The size of the territory can reach 30-40 sq. km. Day after day, the hungry predator makes rounds of its site, visiting the hiding places of mountain goats known only to him, their pastures and trails. He tries to move from top to bottom, along the ridge, reaching a full view, or along the beds of mountain rivers. Each round usually takes about a week.

The snow leopard arranges its lair in the most secluded places – among the heaps of rocks, in crevices or caves. Here he can live for several years, leaving the bones of his victims to the vultures near the entrance. There were cases when snow leopards rested in the nests of black vultures, looking around from there.

During the day, the animal lays down in the shelter, and goes hunting at dusk. He conceals his victims, silently creeping up to them, or guards at salt licks, watering places and on paths, trying to attack “from top to bottom”. Using the unevenness of the relief, every bump and pebble, the leopard, like a shadow, creeps up to grazing animals (the high position of the eyes on its skull allows you to almost not raise its head from the ground).

When a couple of tens of meters remain before them, he rushes to the victim in a whirlwind, making ten-meter jumps. Usually, after a miss, he comes back, but there are cases when the snow leopard chased a female argali for about a kilometer! It knocks the prey down and rips open its throat or groin. Sometimes a whole family of leopards hunts together. Having killed the prey, the beast tries to hide it from the vultures under a rock or tree. Having fed up (3 kg of meat at a time), he throws the remains and only occasionally protects and drives off air and ground competitors.

The range of the snow leopard extends across the main mountain ranges of Asia, from Afghanistan to Mongolia. These are the Pamirs, Tien Shan, Tibet with the Himalayas and Altai, including the Mongolian. In the past centuries, leopards were found all the way to Lake Baikal and throughout southern Siberia, but now they have remained only where people cannot get them.

Snow leopards live in the same place as their victims, mountain goats and rams, in the zone of alpine meadows, moving with them on various high-altitude pastures all year round. In the summer in the Pamirs, they all keep near the snow line, where the highest humidity, the greenest grass, fresh wind and less midge, at altitudes of 3600-4000 m.In the Himalayas, they rise to heights of 5500-6000 m.In winter, they descend after the mountain goats down, into juniper thickets and even into the zone of mountain forests. There they watch their prey in bushes, tree heaps and on trails, hunting roe deer, wild boars and birds. At the same time, in Altai, the snow leopard prefers rocky gorges at altitudes of 600-1500 m, where mountain goats hide. And in the Mongolian Altai, it can go down from the rocks into the groves of oases and watch the kulans and gazelles at the watering places.

Snow Leopard’s Love Season

The snow leopard’s love season in northern latitudes begins in late winter – early spring. Males find females, enter their areas, and loud meowing cries of feline weddings spread far across the mountains. After 90-95 days, blind, deaf and helpless kittens are born, weighing 400 g and 30 cm long, which only the mother takes care of. Usually there are 2-3 of them, but there were 6! They are light brown in color with dark spots, with a thin and long tail. By July, they are already following their mother with might and main and learning about life.

If Asians were always familiar with this magnificent predator and called it nothing more than “a precious diamond in a pearl setting of mountain ranges”, then in Europe the first mentions of it appeared from the end of the 18th century. Georges Buffon, having received from Iran a spotted panther skin, which contemporaries called “onze”, and, having examined it, gave the beast the Latin name Uncia. But it was the skin of an Iranian leopard. It was only later, in 1775, that Schreber made a real description of the leopard. But the name given to him by Buffon has remained so. The first of the European zoos to receive live Moskovsky snow leopards in 1872. Since then, leopards are not uncommon in Moscow, they live here and reproduce successfully.

… But in nature, the beautiful smoky gray fur of leopards has long attracted the attention of hunters of all stripes, which led to their widespread destruction. They are listed in all the Red Data Books, but this does not help much, and the number of snow leopards is inevitably decreasing. This is also facilitated by the development of the mountains by people, wars, weapons and a decrease in the number of wild ungulates – goats and rams, which are destroyed by the same people. At the same time, in the Tuvan tribes, where totem beliefs are strong and the population considers the opinion of shamans, they believe that trouble awaits the person who killed the leopard! It should be added: “We are all in trouble if the snow leopard disappears from nature!”

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