The snow leopard is a large cat typically found in the mountain ranges of south and central Asia. They are strong creatures, with a powerful build that allows them to scale great slopes with ease. Their hind legs give them the ability to jump distances scaling six times the length of their bodies. Their long tail also provides them with balance and agility, and can even wrap around to protect from the cold.
The snow leopard was once king of the mountains. The mountains were rich with their prey, such as blue sheep, arigali wild sheep, ibex, marmots, pikas, and hares. Snow leopards are found in 12 countries - including China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia, and Mongolia - but their population is declining rapidly.
DID YOU KNOW?
- Researchers estimate that there are only between 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards left in the wild. Mating occurs in late winter, and anywhere between one and five cubs are born roughly a hundred days later. The cubs remain with their mothers until they become independent - normally after 18 to 22 months.
- Snow leopards are usually solitary, except for when females are raising cubs.
- Snow leopards are carnivores and most often eat blue sheep, argali sheep, and ibex.
- The IUCN has classified the snow leopard as endangered.
- The snow leopard's scientific name is Panthera uncia.