Snow leop­ards are smaller than the other big cats but like them, exhibit a range of sizes. Snow leop­ards have long thick fur, the base colour of which varies from smoky grey to yel­low­ish tan, with whitish under­parts. They have dark grey to black open rosettes on their body with small spots of the same color on their heads and larger spots on their legs and tail.

Snow leop­ards show sev­eral adap­ta­tions for liv­ing in a cold moun­tainou s envi­ron­ment. Their bod­ies are stocky, their fur is thick, and their ears are small and rounded, all of which help to min­i­mize heat loss. Their feet are wide, which dis­trib­utes their weight bet­ter for walk­ing on snow, and they have fur on their under­sides to increase their trac­tion on steep and unsta­ble sur­faces, as well as to assist with min­i­miz­ing heat loss. Snow leop­ards’ tails are long and flex­i­ble, help­ing them to main­tain their bal­ance. The tails are also very thickly cov­ered with fur which, apart from min­i­miz­ing heat loss, allows them to be used like a blan­ket to pro­tect their faces when asleep.

Snow leop­ards can­not roar, despite pos­sess­ing some ossi­fi­ca­tion of the hyoid bone. The pres­ence of this ossi­fi­ca­tion was pre­vi­ously thought to be essen­tial for allow­ing the big cats to roar, but new stud­ies show that the abil­ity to roar is due to other mor­pho­log­i­cal fea­tures, espe­cially of the lar­ynx, which are absent in the snow leop­ard. Snow leop­ard vocal­iza­tions include hisses, chuff­ing, mews, growls, and wailing.

The diet of the snow leop­ard varies across its range and with the time of year, and is depen­dent on prey avail­abil­ity. Its most com­mon prey includes wild sheep and goats, but it also eats mar­mots, pikas, hares and game birds. It is not averse to tak­ing domes­tic live­stock, which brings it into direct con­flict with humans. Snow leop­ards pre­fer to ambush prey from above and can leap as far as 14 meters.
snow leopard

Pop­u­la­tion size & trend

Esti­mated pop­u­la­tion size:Esti­mated pop­u­la­tion size: 4,0806,590 (roughly, and most esti­mates of the dif­fer­ent coun­tries are out­dated); as the snow leop­ard is hardly ever seen, and for good rea­sons is called the ghost of the moun­tain, this num­ber should be regarded as a very rough extrap­o­la­tion with high uncer​tainty​.In addi­tion, there are between 600 and 700 snow leop­ards in zoos around the world.


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Goal: 7000 tigers in the wild

Tiger range countries map

Tiger map” (CC BY 2.5) by Sander­son et al., 2006.


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