These rare and beautiful creatures are insulated by dense fur. Their wide, very large, fur-covered paws act as snowshoes to keep them from sinking into the snow. Then, there are the females who give birth in rocky dens lined with their fur, so further use is made of their very practical coats. They have powerful legs and are able to jump up to six times their own body length. Unusually for big cats, snow leopards have light green or grey eyes, whereas other big cats have yellow or gold eyes.
Across Central Asia
What do they eat?
Tibetan blue sheep (bharal), mountain ibex ,marmots, hares, and game birds.
Extensive poaching driven by the illegal demand for fur and body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Loss of habitat due to encroachment by farmers. Slaughter by farmers in retaliation for killing their livestock.
As a top predator, the presence of the snow leopard is an important indicator of the health of their environment. But, because snow leopards are so elusive, it is difficult to ascertain just how many are left in the wild. Estimates currently run at 4,000 to 6,500, with a further 600 to 700 thought to be kept in captivity.
“The fate of animals is…indissolubly connected with the fate of men” Émile Zola