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Where does snow leopard live and how many are left in world?

Where does snow leopard live and how many are left in world?

Akshita Kumari

Since 2015, every October 23 International Snow Leopard Day is celebrated to promote its conservation since, in the last 20 years, its population has decreased by 30%. Currently, according to data from the International Union for Conservation of Nature, therefore, the snow leopard is an endangered species.

Where does the snow leopard live?

This animal lives in the cold regions of Central Asia. Although these big cats are more closely related to the tiger than the leopard. Snow leopards live in high mountainous areas that are at an altitude of 18,000 feet, mainly in the Himalayas.

A strip that extends from China to Russia, passing through Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan and Mongolia. The so-called Panthera uncia survives in very wild areas, where temperatures are very low and there are multiple rocks and cliffs.

The snow leopard is a species that is in danger of extinction and for which various associations fight for its conservation. International Snow Leopard Day is celebrated to promote its preservation.

snow leopards population has decreased by 30% in last 20 years. Source: pixabay

These cats are known as snow leopards because they are adapted to snow and cold. Their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snow boots. Snow leopards are often called the “ghosts of the mountains” because people rarely see them. One of the reasons for this is that they usually come out only at dusk and dawn. Snow leopards are also well camouflaged, making them difficult to spot.

Although they move through inhospitable places, they are animals in danger of extinction because the ranchers who have their herds of goats, horses, yaks or mountain goats in the high mountains kill them as revenge for the attacks that the felines carry out on the cattle. On the other hand, these animals are also slaughtered for their dense skin and bones, highly prized in Asian medicine.

How many are left?

There are an estimated 4,080-6,590 snow leopards in the wild, but it is difficult for scientists to know for sure. Snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia.

It is estimated that only 4,000 snow leopards survive in the high mountains of central Asia and this number continues to fall. Increasing habitat loss and degradation, poaching and conflicts with local communities have contributed to a 20% population decline in the past 16 years and have pushed the species to the brink of extinction in many places. “If left unchecked, climate change would aggravate these threats and could push the species into the abyss,” WWF said.

Only 4,000 snow leopards survive in the high mountains of central Asia . Source: unsplash/Frida Lannerström

The conservation organization’s new strategy will focus on places where the organization can contribute most to global efforts to conserve the species and protect people’s livelihoods, including mitigating the threat of climate change, reducing conflicts with local communities and tackle leopard poaching and trafficking.

Snow Leopard:

Their thick fur is brown and yellow in color.

  • They have long, thick tails that they wrap around themselves to stay warm.
  • Instead of roaring, they meow with their mouth closed, yelp or blow their nose.
  • They can travel more than 25 miles in one night.
Threat of climate change. Source: Wikimedia Commons
  • They can leap about 30 feet, six times their body length.
  • The eyes of these big cats are yellowish brown or green.

Snow leopards hunt wild sheep. However, wild sheep are also a source of food for humans. With the number of wild sheep dwindling, the snow leopards resort to killing the animals. With this, farmers and herders kill snow leopards.

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These counter-kills are one of the reasons for the low numbers of snow leopards in the wild.

Climate change effects

In addition, climate change is accelerating habitat loss as icy and high-altitude areas such as the Himalayas are the ecosystems most vulnerable to rising temperatures.

The future of the snow leopard is in danger from climate change due to the fragility of its high mountain habitat, according to the environmental organization WWF in a report published. In addition, almost 30% of the planet’s species could disappear due to global warming.

In the past, the snow leopard was a sacred animal for the indigenous people of the area. Source: Peakpx

The report “Fragile Connections: Snow Leopards, People, Water and the Global Climate”, published on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day, reveals that more than a third of the high mountain habitat of this species, which lives in 12 countries from Central Asia, could no longer be appropriate for this endangered mammal if climate change is not addressed.

In the past, the snow leopard was a sacred animal for the indigenous people of the area. It represented the protection of the mountains, the unifying force and the source of spiritual power. This belief is about inculcating again among the local populations so that they respect these specimens and conserve them.

International Snow Leopard Day was proclaimed on October 23 by the Central Asian snow leopard range states to enact its conservation and raise awareness among the entire population. Before. This initiative emerged in 2013 during the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP). As a result of this, the snow leopard is protected by the legislation of the countries in which it is endemic.

Global warming is estimated to destroy two-thirds of the living space for these mammals in the next 50 years.. Source: Flickr

Facts about the snow leopard:

  • The snow leopard’s gestation period is 90 to 100 days, after which a litter of three or four pups weighing 300 to 600 grams is born.
  • Extremely fragmented populations are found in the remote mountainous areas of Central Asia.
  • Global warming is estimated to destroy two-thirds of the living space for these mammals in the next 50 years.
  • Their diet is based on the meat of mammals and birds, among which are the blue or baral ram (Pseudois nayaur), the Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), marmots and wild boars, among others.
  • Snow leopards are masters of camouflage and are perfectly equipped to live in the mountains.
  • The natural area of an unmated male could cover a territory of 200 square kilometers.
  • Snow leopards move to different altitudes based on the summer and winter migrations of their prey animals.
  • They are largely solitary animals and live in low densities in the mountains at altitudes ranging from 2,000 to more than 5,000 meters above sea level.
  • Its very long and bushy tail has a double function:
  • First, it allows you to keep your balance on steep terrain.
  • On the other hand, it also serves to keep the body warm by being wrapped around it in the harsh winter.

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