The home to the wandering cat..

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

What's really happening with Snow Leopards...

So we have all seen the adverts on the Tv asking for donations to help save Snow Leopards. I soon realized i know less about these kitties than any other, i wanted to know why their numbers are struggling and what the real future prospects are for this beautiful breed. 

So first i ask for numbers. Most estimates are acknowledged to be rough and out-dated so it is hard to guess but the latest numbers are  4,080–6,590. Now this doesn't sound too bad but the actual amount that are able to reproduce is only 2,500 (50% of the wild population).

As expected, as the population of humans increases, it takes it's toll on all species we live alongside.The Snow leopard is increasingly losing habitat and numbers of wild prey are down too. But don't worry there is help on the horizon. There are many organisations out there such as the snow Leopard Trust, the snow leopard conservancy and the snow leopard network. these and many other non-profit donor organisations which are helping to make a feature for these beautiful cats.

The darker side of the tale is the fact people are hunting these animals for our own selfish reasons. Their fur is sold for rugs, clothing and taxidermy. whilst their bones are ground and used in medicines. Teeth for jewelry and decoration. 

Although it is rarely talked about it is happening. recently it was noted tribes in rural Asia are bribed with resources and alcohol and given guns to catch wildlife. this makes a huge impact when they are now killing more than is needed to sustain there villages, impacting the ecosystem greatly.

Kazahkstan  is the only country that has any recent reports of snow leopard bones being trafficked but even the figure is probably wrong.  in Kazahkstan it is reported that 8-10 are poached annually with no arrests or seizures having ever been made. 

it is obvious that some countries are not concerned enough. between 1994-1995 newspaper ads can be found selling their furs. Sales to the United States fetched $25,000 per animal. this isn't the only nation at blame. in fact, trafficking records are like this for all Snow Leopard bearing countries.

But it isn't just killing Snow leopards where the money is, many live specimens are kept to be sold as pets. These animals then go on to secret lives. Even though it is illegal to do so these animals are generally in high demand because of their high mortality rate and low life expectancy in zoo's. it is reported between 1960-1980 many illegally trapped snow leopards were sold to zoo's.

Snow leopards are native to Central Asia, it generally hangs out in Alpine and Sub-Alpine areas meaning high above sea level normally in mountainous regions, hence snow being in his name. In summer they will live above the tree line then when winter comes they will go below it to maintain as constant temperature as possible.

One of their main attributes is their beautiful coat. its undercoat is a grey-yellowish colour  and they have rosettes of brown along their body head and tail. Most notably in snow leopards is their eyes, a pale green-grey and sometimes blue.

Snow leopards are one of the smaller big cats weighing between 22kg and 55kg. Occasionally a large male is recorded to reaching 75kg. they may be small in size but have one of the longest tails reaching 80-100cm. 

the snow leopard has adapted to its environment by developing unusually large nasal cavities that help it breath arm warm the cold air. 

They live a reasonable solitary life although some females will stay with her cubs in dens for extended periods. like other cats they scent their territory although this could be harder in snow, so they generally spray on sheltered patches of rock.

It depends on the time of year and whats available on what they hunt. their main prey is considered to be the Himalayan blue sheep and other sheep breeds. Other types include wild goats, deer, rodents, langur monkeys and birds such as the snow cock.

 The snow leapord can not roar! notably down to having no larynx but it can still make mews, wailing, chuffing, growling and hissing.

An adorable video of a gorgeous snow leopard cub.


 all images taken from the wikipedia website:

charitable organisiations and sites of interest:

the snow leopard trust

the snow leopard conservancy

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