By : Dr. Diya Choudhary
The Snow leopard is the top predator of Asian high altitude landscapes. These spotted leopards are insulated by thick hair, in shades of gray or creamy yellow and covered with grayish black spots. Their wide,fur covered feet act as natural snowshoes.Snow leopards have powerful legs and are tremendous jumpers, able to leap as far as 50 feet. These big cats use their long tails for balance and as blankets to cover sensitive body parts against the severe mountain chill.They are shy and reclusive and rarely seen in the wild.
For millennia,this magneficent cat was King of Mountains. The mountains were rich their prey such as blue sheep, Argali wild sheep,ibex,marmots,pikas and hares. The snow leopard habitat range extends across the mountainous regions of 12 countries across Asia:
India, Kazakhstan,Kyrgyz Republic,Mangolia,Nepal, Pakistan,Russia,Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. The total range covers an area close to 772,204 square miles,with 60% of the habitat found in china.However more than 70% of snow leopard habitat remains un explored.They prefer steep,rugged terrain with rocky outcrops where prey can be hard to come by.That’s why these carnivores require an enormous amount of space to roam.
Snow Leopards prey upon the Blue sheep of Tibet and Himaliyas as well as the mountain ibex found over most of the rest of their range.Though these powerful predators can kill animals three times their weight,they also eat smaller fare,such as marmots,hares and game birds.
One indian snow leopard,protected and observed in a national park,is reported to have consumed five blue sheep,nine tibetion woolly hares,25 marmots,five domestic goats,one domestic sheep and 15 birds in a single year.