World For Nature

Himachal Pradesh SA

Himachal Pradesh – Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

Common Name: Snow Leopard

Local Name: Shan (Ladakhi)

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia

Description: Often referred to as the “Ghost of the Mountains,” Snow Leopards have long, thick fur that serves as an insulating blanket against the highly harsh mountain climate. The snow leopard possesses black spots on its face and limbs, while the back side of its small rounded ears has black edges. The smoky grey coat of the snow leopard features black rosettes, the centers of which are darker, with each individual featuring a different pattern of rosettes. The long and thick tail of these leopards helps them maintain balance and function as a shield against harsh climates. The snow leopards have an “imperfectly ossified hyoid bone” and short vocal folds; hence they cannot roar, unlike the other big cats. However, these leopards can growl, snarl, yowl, and mew.

Distribution And Habitat: Snow Leopards are found in various regions across the mountainous landscape of Central Asia. The snow leopards live at high altitudes from 1,800 to 5,800m above sea level in the Himalayas. In India, they are found in Jammu & Kashmir, the trans-Himalayas of Ladakh, Lahaul-Spiti, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. However, snow leopards are one of the most difficult species to spot in the wild because of their secretive nature. Snow leopards prey on blue sheep, Siberian ibex, Himalayan tahr, Himalayan marmot, musk deer, Tibetan argali, pikas, and woolly hare.

Threats: Some of the dangers faced by snow leopards include: Poaching – due to the high demand and price of its fur and bones in the international market; loss of habitat due to climate change; retaliatory killings due to conflict with humans; and loss of natural prey species due to competition with domestic livestock in their habitat.

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