Untitled Document

Snow Leopard

 / ©: Martin Harvey/WWF-Canon
Snow Leopard
© Martin Harvey/WWF-Canon

Key Facts

  • Common Name:

    Snow Leopard

  • Scientific Name:

    Panthera uncia

  • Geographic Habitat:

    Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarkhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh

  • Population:

    Around 300-500

  • Height:

    about 60 cm

  • Length:

    90 - 130 cm

  • Weight:

    35-40 kg, Male: 45 - 55 kg

  • Status:

    Endangered

  • Did you know?

    Snow leopards do not roar

Distribution
The strikingly beautiful snow leopard remains one of the most mysterious cats in the world. This roving, high altitude cat is rarely sighted by local people or scientists. Because it is so elusive, accurate population numbers are hard to come by, although estimates range from 400 to 700 individuals. Snow leopards live in the mountain regions of central Asia. In India their geographical cover encompasses a large part of the Western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttarakhand with a sizable population in Ladakh, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh in Eastern Himalaya in addition to Nepal, Bhutan and parts of China.

Habitat
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 high elevations of 3000-5000 meters, and even higher in the Himalayas. The snowy peaks act as a camouflage for the animal.

Characteristics
Snow leopards are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg. Their exquisite smoky-gray fur patterned with dark-gray to black rosettes, camouflage them against rocky slopes. The species usually mate between January and March, a time when both sexes mark intensively, leaving signs such as scrapes, faeces, urine and scent-spray in prominent locations along their travel routes. The animal is most active at dawn and dusk. Like most species of cats, Snow Leopards are solitary animals, though sometimes male and female pairs might be seen together during mating season.

Status:
The Snow leopard is listed as endangered on the IUCN-World Conservation Union's Red List of the Threatened Species. 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 country.