© Klein & Hubert/WWF

About Snow leopard

Key Facts

  • Common Name:

    Snow Leopard

  • Scientific Name:

    Panthera uncia

  • Population:

    Around 450-500

  • Height:

    about 60 cm

  • Length:

    90 - 130 cm

  • Weight:

    35-40 kg, Male: 45 - 55 kg

  • Status:

    Listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of the Threatened Species

  • 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.

Habitat and distribution

Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of central and southern Asia. 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.


The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable 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 countries.


Snow leopards are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg. Their exquisite, smoky-grey fur is patterned with dark-grey to black rosettes which helps to camouflage them against rocky slopes. The species usually mates between January and March, a time when both sexes mark their territories 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.
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