Snow Leopard

Central Asia

Scientific classification

  • Kingdom: Animalia
  • Phylum: Chordata
  • Class: Mammalia
  • Order: Carnivora

The majestic big cat’s name as we know it today derives from the Snow Leopards’ habitat, the snow-capped mountains of central Asia. Known for its striking appearance and resilience to the extreme landscape in which it lives, the Snow Leopard is quite unique.

Physically this species of Leopard has a similar build to that of others, with an average height of 55-65cm, and an average length of 90-115cm. However, the Snow Leopard has adapted perfectly to dominate the white, harsh landscape of the mountains and this particular Leopard species has several exceptional physical attributes.

The Snow Leopard’s paws are larger than average and padded, which allows the big cat to move around comfortably in the snow. Its ears prevent heat-loss, as they are short and round. The Snow Leopard has distinctive fur, much thicker for insulation and much lighter in colour than that of other leopards, a perfect camouflage for its surroundings. With exceptionally strong limbs, the Snow Leopard’s longer hind limbs allow it to reach up to an impressive 10 meters in a single jump.

Sadly, the Snow Leopard that we have come to recognise for its stunning appearance is at threat and currently the animal is an endangered species. There could be as few as 3,920 Snow Leopards remaining in the wild.

It is no secret that human actions are affecting the species drastically. Poaching remains to be one of the biggest threats to the Snow Leopard. In 9 years from 2003 to 2012, 480 were reportedly poached, with that figure likely to be much higher. As well as the Snow Leopards themselves, hunters are also killing off blue sheep and other animals, the main food sources for the Snow Leopard.

The change to climate is a challenge the Snow Leopard is unable to face alone, and facts show that the issue is worsening over time. Such changes greatly affect the Snow Leopards and its habitat, eventually we could see one third of the Snow Leopard’s landscape diminish.

However, with sufficient efforts, conservation programmes can help to protect the Snow Leopard and its habitat. With support and effort from thousands across the globe, conservation programmes are already having a significant positive impact on the Snow Leopard. If such efforts continue and grow, the majestic Snow Leopard could be saved.

Estimated Snow Leopard population figures between 2000 and 2016

Today there are estimated to be no more than 6,590 Snow Leopard individuals remaining in the wild. The figure has been steadily decreasing since the year 2000. Despite major conservation efforts, the Snow Leopard still faces many threats including illegal poaching and habitat loss.

he graph above estimates that in 2000 there were around 9,000 individuals remaining in the wild, indicating a loss of 3,500 individuals, accounting for more than one third of the population.

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