Between 1986 and 2017 the snow leopard was listed as an endangered species on the Red List of Threatened Species from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Countries include Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia, and Tibet. Thinly spread across 12 countries in central Asia, it’s at home in high, rugged mountain landscapes. While snow leopards are protected over part of their range, hunting and poaching pose a major threat to their survival. The snow leopard inhabits the mountains of central Asia and the Indian subcontinent, ranging from an elevation of about 1,800 metres (about 6,000 feet) in the winter to about 5,500 metres (18,000 feet) in the summer. Supporting people to support snow leopards. Because of the presence of certain skeletal features, such as having a shorter skull and having more-rounded eye orbits than other big cats, the snow leopard has also been classified by some authorities as the sole member of the genus Uncia. On average, a snow leopard's length is between 75 and 150 cm (30 to 59 in), plus a tail that's 80 to 105 cm (31 to 41 in) long. Photo: Alexander Oehrle. Usually they are solitary, but pairs have been known to hunt together. Updates? Formerly classified as Leo uncia, the snow leopard has been placed—with the lion, tiger, and other big cats—in the genus Panthera. Snow leopard cubs have black spots that turn into rosettes as the cats approach maturity. Dr. Helmenstine holds a Ph.D. in biomedical sciences and is a science writer, educator, and consultant. While other big cats have golden eyes, the snow leopard's eyes are gray or green. View our Cookie Policy for more information, Sign up to get the latest WWF news delivered straight to your inbox. Very little is known about them, but we know that they are threatened by habitat deterioration, poaching and conflict with people, with climate change adding additional pressure. Humans also hunt the snow leopard's prey, forcing the animal to encroach on human settlements to find food. Its round, short ears reduce heat loss, and the wide, short nasal cavity warms the air before it reaches the cat’s lungs. Snow leopards live at high elevations in mountainous regions of Central Asia. Nepal. An assessment in 2016 estimated a population between 2,710 to 3,386 mature individuals remaining in the wild, with a decreasing population trend. The dense fur is white on the snow leopard's belly, gray on its head, and dotted with black rosettes. A large male may reach 75 kg (165 lb), while a small female may weigh under 25 kg (55 lb). Several factors have contributed to their decline. We use cookies to analyse how visitors use our website and to help us provide the best possible experience for users. The snow leopard has short legs, a stocky body, and an extremely long, bushy tail, which it can curl over its face to stay warm. The cat has strong, short front limbs and longer hind limbs. The snow leopard has a beautiful, spotted coat, thick enough to insulate them from the cold. Habitat loss and fragmentation In the wild, most cats live between 15 and 18 years, but snow leopards live about 25 years in captivity. They help launch the … Global warming increases the altitude of the tree line, diminishing the range of the cat and its prey. … Scientists believe this trait naturally reduces the chance of inbreeding. Help us protect the beautiful, rare, elusive snow leopard and its environment. Its soft coat, consisting of a dense insulating undercoat and a thick outercoat of hairs about 5 cm (2 inches) long, is pale grayish with dark rosettes and a dark streak along the spine. You can unsubscribe at any time. Snow leopard, also called ounce, large long-haired Asian cat, classified as either Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia in the family Felidae. The average snow leopard weighs between 22 and 55 kg (49 to 121 lb). This is now one of the biggest threats to snow leopards in parts of their range. Affected by: I am fascinated by snow leopards and the amazing places they are found in – I’ve had the great privilege to visit one of these areas in Nepal, see a snow leopard, and meet our dedicated colleagues and inspiring communities working to monitor and protect the snow leopard.". An estimated 350–590 snow leopards survive in Nepal – one of the larger populations within the species’ range. The average snow leopard weighs between 22 and 55 kg (49 to 121 lb). The elegant and well-camouflaged snow leopard is one of the world’s most elusive cats. While the snow leopard is close in size to a lynx, it is more closely related to the jaguar, leopard, and tiger. The female finds a rocky den, which she lines with fur from her belly. Thick fur also covers the cat's large paws, helping to grip slick surfaces and minimize heat loss. Their tails are between 80 to 105 cm (31 – 41 inches) long.. The snow leopard is hunted for its fur and body parts and killed to protect livestock. The other name for the snow leopard is the "ounce." It hunts at night and preys on various animals, such as marmots, wild sheep, ibex (Capra), and domestic livestock. A snow leopard brandishing its large, bushy tail (Shutterstock) Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to their harsh… Pupil shape (for animals in general) may be the result of height and place in the food chain. Snow leopards are top predators in their environment, and their prey include mountain sheep and goats. For example, herbivore populations would increase, resulting in changes to the vegetation, also affecting other wildlife that live in these areas. At that point, the young cats travel great distances to seek their new home. The snow leopard’s large paws are natural snow shoes.

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