SNOW  LEOPARDS:   

DWELLERS  OF  THE  ROOF  OF  THE  WORLD


(C) A. Lopez

APPEARANCE/  SIZE  /  STRUCTURE:


(C) A. Lopez

This cat is seen by very few people.  It has the ability to blend  into the rock vastness it inhabits.  Its body is structured to live among the rugged mountains and harsh weather climate where it makes its home.  It has a long flexible body to allow movement up and down steep slopes. It has large forepaws (which acts as snowshoes on snow and ice),  short forelimbs,  well developed chest muscles, and a three foot tail (for balance).  This tail is almost the full length of it its body.  It is one of the most beautiful cats with gray-green eyes and long, thick, smoke-gray fur.  This fur is patterned with large, dark rosettes and spots and it protects the big cat from wind, rain, and snow.  It is slightly smaller then the common leopard and has a small head, high forehead, and short, rounded ears. These ears are small and they prevent  heat loss. They weigh 60 to 165 pounds.  Including the tail, they can reach up to seven  feet long. These cats do not roar.  They make a high-pitched yowl  as they mark their territories.

 

DISTRIBUTION / HABITAT:


(C) A. Lopez

This beautiful cat lives from Hindu Kush mountains of Afghanistan into Pakistan.  It also is found along the Karakorum Range and Pamir Range to the Tien Shen, Altay, and Syan ranges along the border of China, the USSR, and the Mongolian People's Republic .  They also inhabit southward through Qinghai, Gansu, and the Sichuan provinces of China, Nepal, and India. They are usually found above 9,800 feet and can live as high up as 19,700 feet.  They are most closely associated with steep-rugged terrain at high elevations.  Snow leopards also live in the Alpine meadows, Alpine scrub,  and higher altitude forests.  During winter,  it may descend to lower elevations but then move back up to the steepest and most remote terrain in the summer.  They do seem to have a preference for traveling along river cliffs or bluffs or other landscape edges. They also seem to rest at these places  as well.  They are most active early in the  mornings or  late afternoons or evenings.  In places where they are most persecuted for their pelts,  they are nocturnal animals.  Their  home ranges are from 4.5  to  15 square miles.  Males and females have ranges that seem to overlap each other.    

 

SOCIAL SYSTEM/  REPRODUCTION:


 

These cats have a social marking system of scrapes,  rock scenting, and placement of other signs that tell others their age, sex, and reproductive status. This enables these animals to share its habitat's resources without conflict and to avoid contact with each other.  These are solitary animals, but  they  have been seen in small groups together.   For these,  it had never been determined  whether this was a mother with almost grown cubs or not........

 Females have a gestation period of 90 to 100 days. They give birth to 2 to 3 cubs usually in the months April to June.  They first start to eat solid foods at  two months and start following their mother during hunts at three months. They probably stay with her until two years of age.


(C) A. Lopez

 

DIET:

This cat is a powerful predator.  It uses the stalk-and-ambush method of hunting to capture its prey.  Their favorite food seems to be the "blue sheep (bharal)."   They also prey on the ibex, marmots,  musk deer,  hare,  birds,  and sometimes even on domestic sheep or goats. They are also opportunistic predators feeding off of yak, etc.  For lower altitudes, they prey on marmots and birds.  For higher altitudes, they prey on the wild goats.  These cats have even been seen eating willow twigs and other vegetation!

 

PERIL  OF  THE  SNOW  LEOPARD:


(C) A. Lopez
 

These animals are thinly spread over a very large area due to poaching and farming.  Their numbers are unknown but in certain parts of their home range,  they have become very rare.  They are protected in certain areas, but their terrain makes it difficult to enforce these policies.  They are still hunted because of their beautiful coats and because they  sometimes prey on domestic livestock.   In some areas, the poaching is on the increase.  One snow leopard skin is worth more then what a farmer can make in a year.   Also, they are losing their habitat due to livestock grazing,  farming, or  firewood collection.   I have heard that it takes  16  snow leopards to make just one coat!  There may be only from 2,000 to 4,000 snow leopards left in the wild.... Nobody really knows how many snow leopards are left.  These are beautiful animals and they are the top of the food chain in their areas.   In killing them,  we not only kill a beautiful creature but also upset the ecology  of their surrounding environment.....

This big cat is also called Sabu by Tibetian villagers and Ounce.

 

RESOURCES  I  HAVE  USED.  TEXT  IS COPYRIGHT  MATERIAL  AND  ALL  RIGHTS  RESERVED  AND  ACKNOWLEDGED.  THIS  SITE  IS  FOR  EDUCATIONAL  NONPROFIT  PURPOSES  ONLY!

Lumpkin, Susan and Seidensticker, John. 1991. Great Cats Majestic Creatures of the Wild. Rodale Press, Pa. Pgs 37, 124, 125, and 127.

Sleeper, Barbara. 1995. Wild Cats of the World. Crown Publishers, NY. Pg  92.

 


(C) A. Lopez

 

 
  
(C) A. Lopez
 


(C) A. Lopez


 

  

 

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