Snow Leopard

Cat of the Month ~ February 2014

With the heavy winter snows still affecting the United States, the cat of the month for February is the Snow Leopard. This beautiful cat was the mascot for the recent XXII Winter Olympics in Sochi and it was a fitting emblem for all the marvellous outdoor activities in Snow! Just like those athletes this feline surely is a master of its environment.

This special Leopard is currently found in ever dwindling numbers in Asia, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Mongolia, Tibet and possibly also in Myanmar. To be more precise its geographic distribution runs from the Hindu Kush in eastern Afghanistan and the Syr Darya through to the Russian Altai mountains an on to the west of Lake Baikal.

It is a sad and daunting estimatation that there are now only approximately 4,000 (yes four thousand!) snow leopards left in the wild, although this number is not a fixed certainty. We are stunned by this finding and can only hope that there are undiscovered snow leopards lurking in even more remote regions throught the world (lets live in hope). The recent footage from the Snow Leopard Trust shows a fine and rare photograph of one of these magnificent cats caught on film by an automatic research camera.

A wild Snow Leopard triggers an automatic camera.
Photograph: Snow Leopard Trust.

Snow leopards show several adaptations for living in a cold, mountainous 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 paws are wide, which distributes their weight better for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase their grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it too also helps to minimize heat loss.

Snow leopards’ tails are long and flexible, helping them to maintain their balance, which is very important in the rocky terrain they inhabit. Their tails are also very thick due to storage of fat and are very thickly covered with fur which allows them to be used like a blanket to protect their faces when asleep. The snow leopard also has a short muzzle and domed forehead, containing unusually large nasal cavities that help the animal breathe the thin, cold air of their mountainous environment.

Both the WWF and the Snow Leopard Trust are working to protect this incredible cat. The Snow Leopard trust have been studying these felines for many years in Mongolia’s South Gobi. You can read about the cats Agnus, Arian (Pure), Ariumbeleg (Pure Spirit), Dagina (Beautiful Princess) and Dvekh (phoenix rising) on this meet the cats page.

In the future lets hope we see a lot more cubs like this sturdy soul…

snow leopard cub

A wild Snow Leopard Cub, prowls for food (no doubt)
Photograph: Snow Leopard Trust.

Article Sources: Snow Leopard Trust, Wikipedia

Snow Leopard Cubs

Cat of the Month ~ June 2007

Snow Leopard Cubs - inquisitive little creatures

Snow Leopard Cubs – inquisitive little creatures. Snow Leopards are native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia

Read more about adult snow leopards on this link.

Snow Leopard

Cat of the month ~ August 2007


Snow Leopard at rest

The Snow Leopard Trust.

Founded in 1981, the Snow Leopard Trust is the largest and oldest organization working solely to protect the endangered snow leopard and its Central Asian habitat.

Conservation Philosophy

How do you save a snow leopard? Or a tiger, rhino, rare butterfly, or for that matter a patch of rainforest? These are the questions that every conservation organization faces, and that challenges all of us. Conservation actions can take many forms; setting aside lands, answering critical research questions, working to change government policies, partnering with communities, enforcing anti-poaching laws, or some mix of these and other efforts.

The Snow Leopard Trust use a combination of approaches that focus on partnering with communities in snow leopard habitat. They build community partnerships in addition to using science and research to determine key snow leopard habitat, assess wildlife-human conflict levels, and identify potential resources for conservation programs.
High priority areas are then chosen including key snow leopard habitat, with a history of conflict between predators and the communities, and potential resources to sustain a community-based conservation program.

When the science and research identifies an area as a priority site time is spent with local residents, listening to their hopes and concerns, and only then is a conservation program jointly developed.

Conservation efforts must meet four important goals.

1. The protection of snow leopards and their habitat, involving local communities in this effort.
2. An improved quality of life for the members of the community.
3. The program developed must have a path to becoming self-sufficient � where after a time it is no longer dependent on donor dollars.
4. The results of the program must be verifiable through monitoring programs.

The Snow Leopard Trust strives to follow these principles in all its community-based conservation efforts.
Visit the website via the link above and read about the different projects that are being implemented.

The Snow Leopard Trust constantly endeavor to improve our conservation projects to better meet the needs of cats and humans, and they are seeing wonderful results at their project sites. Here the livelihoods of families and communities have been improved greatly whilst snow leopards are being protected and their populations growing.

[Extract and Photograph from the Snow Leopard Trust Website]