Rare Snow Leopard Kills Sheep In First-Ever Photographs loading...
Rare Snow Leopard Kills Sheep In First-Ever Photographs
In November, a photographer got quite a shock while trekking the Tibetan Plateau in western China.
Stunning Rare Footage Reveals Elusive Snow Leopards loading...
Stunning Rare Footage Reveals Elusive Snow Leopards
The endangered big cats are hanging on in Russia, the first country-wide survey of the animal suggests, while scientists and conservationists debate future protections.
Why International Snow Leopard Day Matters loading...
Why International Snow Leopard Day Matters
Within the mountainous and rocky ranges that sprawl from the east to the west, the snow leopard patrols this wilderness in style.
Snow Leopard of Afghanistan Facts loading...
Snow Leopard of Afghanistan Facts
Learn more about the snow leopard
About Snow Leopards

They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Snow leopards have powerful legs and are tremendous leapers, able to jump as far as 50 feet (15 meters). They use their long tails for balance and as blankets to cover sensitive body parts against the severe mountain chill.

Snow leopards prey upon the blue sheep (bharal) of Tibet and the Himalaya, 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 Tibetan woolly hares, twenty-five marmots, five domestic goats, one domestic sheep, and fifteen birds in a single year.

As these numbers indicate, snow leopards sometimes have a taste for domestic animals, which has led to killings of the big cats by herders.

These endangered cats appear to be in dramatic decline because of such killings, and due to poaching driven by illegal trades in pelts and in body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Vanishing habitat and the decline of the cats' large mammal prey are also contributing factors.


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