In this series, we will try to cover all the important species with the brief highlights regarding their properties- region of habitat, unique characteristics, status under the IUCN, etc.
Did you know?
Snow Leopards do not roar!
The strikingly beautiful snow leopard remains one of the most mysterious cats in the world.
This roving, high altitude cat is rarely sighted and because it is so elusive, accurate population numbers are hard to come by, although estimates range from 450 to 500 individuals for India.
The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas.
It has developed a centrally-supported programme called Project Snow Leopard for the conservation of the species and its habitats.
What are they?
Snow leopard or ounce (Panthera uncia) is a large cat.
Central and South Asia.
The snow leopard inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m (9,800 to 14,800 ft), ranging from western Afghanistan to Mongolia and western China.
In the northern range countries, it also occurs at lower elevations.
In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas. The last three states form part of the Eastern Himalayas – a priority global region of WWF and the Living Himalayas Network Initiative.
Snow leopards prefer steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides good cover and clear view to help them sneak up on their prey. They are found at elevations of 3,000-5,000 metres or higher in the Himalayas.
Refer to the map below for memorising the names of the countries where these are found:
In September 2017, the snow leopard was improved from Endangered to Vulnerable on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of the Threatened Species.
Listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972
In addition, the snow leopard, like all big cats, is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which makes trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in signatory countries.
It is also protected by several national laws in its range countries.