Posted On : 20 Oct, 2023
Latin Name: Panthera uncia
DESCRIPTION: Snow Leopard belongs to the Felidae family and Pantherinae Subfamily. One of the most aptly named animals, the Snow Leopard is adapted completely to live in snow-covered areas. It is marginally smaller than the Common Leopard, with a more luxuriant coat. It has black spots on its limbs and face, and its pale smoky grey coat, with ghostly, dark grey rosettes, allows for excellent camouflage. The centres of the rosettes are darker and the pattern of rosettes of each individual is different. The ears are short and round, and the back of the ears have black edges and are pale. The Snow Leopard’s limbs are long and muscular, the chest is deep and the paws are massive in comparison to its body, all of which help to fall the larger prey that it often needs to hunt. The hind limbs are longer than the forelimbs. An enlarged nasal cavity, which warms the air that it breathes, and dense, long fur especially on its undersides and under the tail enable this cat to live in places where the temperatures can dip to -40º C. The tail is long, well-furred and thick and is often used as a muffler by the animal to keep itself warm. The skull is broad and domed to accommodate the larger nasal cavities. It has an imperfectly ossified hyoid bone, so it cannot roar, although it can growl, cough, snarl and yowl.
BEHAVIOUR: Despite being a large carnivore, the harsh terrain and climate that it lives in forces the Snow Leopard to have a wide dietary range, including rodents, birds and wild goats. It kills every 10–15 days and it has been estimated to have a large prey consumption of approximately 20–30 adult Bharal annually. During the lean season, small alpine mammals such as marmots, pikas and hares comprise a fair share of its diet. In February and March, during its peak breeding months, it is known to feed on a shrub, Myricaria germanica.
DISTRIBUTION: Through the high Himalayas from Jammu & Kashmir to Arunachal Pradesh and the trans-Himalayas of Ladakh, Lahaul–Spiti, Gangotri and Tso Lhamo. Its range closely approximates the geographical range of its large prey, the Bharal and the Ibex.
HABITAT: Alpine as well as subalpine steppe, grassland, and scrub above the treeline. It favours lightly forested and steep terrain with rocky, broken country. Prefers areas with proximity to cliffs. Best Seen At Hemis NP in Ladakh and Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh
Size: 86–125 cm,
Weight: 35–55 kg