The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a large cat that lives in the harsh, snowy, rugged alpine region of central and south Asia. They can be found at elevations between one to three miles high across a total of twelve different countries. The ideal snow leopard habitat is bleak, dangerous, cold, and desolate – not most people’s idea of a nice place to live. It is listed as “vulnerable” on the IUCN red list (International Union for Conservation of Natures red list–a list of threatened species). This is because the global population of mature snow leopards is estimated to number less than 10,000 and this number is expected to decline about 10% by 2040.
Snow leopards usually have white and gray fur, and are shorter than most big cats. They are exceptionally well camouflaged because their smokey gray fur blends in with the mountains and snow. They only grow up to 22 inches tall, but can weigh up to 165 pounds! Typically snow leopards live for only 15 to 18 years and only live with their mothers for 2 months! Snow leopards are great hunters; they are also very stealthy. They mostly hunt deer, horses, and even camels.
They are very elusive creatures. People living around Snow Leopards often refer to them as the “ghosts of the mountains.”