On October 23rd, International Snow Leopard Day celebrates this endangered cat. It’s also a day to learn more about the snow leopard and how to protect this elusive animal.
Although called snow leopards, these big cats are more closely related to a tiger than a leopard. Snow leopards live in alpine areas that are 18,000 feet in elevation, mostly in the Himalayas. China and Mongolia have the highest numbers of snow leopards. They also live in Nepal, India, Pakistan, and Russia.
These cats earn the name snow leopard because they adapt well to the snow and cold. Their wide fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Snow leopards are often called “ghosts of the mountains” because people rarely see them. One reason for this is they usually only come out at dusk and dawn while it’s still dark. Snow leopards are also well camouflaged, which makes them hard to spot.
Snow Leopard Facts
- Their thick fur is grey and yellow-tinged.
- They have long, thick tails that they wrap around themselves to stay warm.
- Instead of roaring, they meow, yowl, or blow through their nose with their mouth closed.
- They can travel over 25 miles in one night.
- They can jump nearly 30 feet, six times their body length.
- These big cats have pale grey or greenish eyes.
A snow leopard’s diet consists of wild sheep. However, wild sheep are also a food source for humans. With the reduced numbers of wild sheep, snow leopards resort to killing livestock. This causes farmers and herders to kill snow leopards. These retaliatory killings are one reason for the low numbers of snow leopards in the wild. Today, there could be as few as 4,000 snow leopards. Due to their low numbers, snow leopards are considered endangered.