The elegant and well-camouflaged snow leopard is one of the world’s most elusive cats. Although called snow leopards, these big cats are more closely related to a tiger than a leopard. They’re usually at home in high, rugged mountain landscapes at heights of over 3,000 metres spread across 12 countries in central Asia.
Snow leopards are important to their ecosystem because as top predators, they maintain the ecological balance by preying on mountain sheep and goats, preventing increases in herbivore populations and changes to the vegetation.They have extra large paws that are like a natural pair of snowshoes to prevent them from sinking into the snow. These elusive predators can kill prey that is three times their own weight.
Snow leopards cannot roar because of the physiology of their throat. They are often heard purring, hissing or growling in a non-aggressive manner.
Snow leopards have been known to leap as much as 30 feet.
Snow leopards are around 55-65 centimeters in height and 90-115 centimeters in length.
In 2016 snow leopard was put on UCN Red List of Threatened Species as vulnerable. According to estimates, there are only around 2700-3400 living in the wild. They are mostly affected by habitat loss and fragmentation, climate change and illegal wildlife trade.
Sources: iucnredlist.org, wwf.org.uk, earth.org
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