Wild Fact #283 – The Majestic Cat – Snow Leopard

Endangered Species - The Snow Leopard

Photo by Bernard Landgraf (Wikimedia)

Today’s featured animal is dedicated to the father of one of Wild Facts biggest fans. According to Jamie, there is a picture of the majestic Snow Leopard situated next to his Dad’s desk and as such, he requested that this animal gets its very own Wild Fact. I think it would do all of us some good to learn about one of the most stunning animals that roam this planet of ours. So what do you think? Are you up for a trip to the mountains of Central Asia to search for the incredible Snow Leopard? Alternatively, you could also take a trip to Jamie’s house and just admire the picture in his Dad’s office….but you should probably call first.

Perfectly Adapted to a Harsh Environment

The incredibly rare but extraordinarily beautiful Snow Leopard is perfectly adapted to a life in the mountainous regions of Central Asia. How you ask? Great question! For starters, they have a thick coat of fur to act as an insulator…..it gets cold in the mountains, you know. Next up, they have very large, fur covered feet that are equivalent to wearing a pair of snowshoes, well I guess two pairs of snowshoes since the last time I checked, the Snow Leopard had four feet.

This particular cat also has a very long tail that can be used to cover any sensitive body parts that would normally be exposed to the harsh mountain climates. Oh, and they also use this tail for balance when they are walking along rocky edges or jumping. Hmmm, ¬†did I forget to mention that this Leopard has extremely powerful legs that provides them with a jumping ability that would put an Olympic long jumper to shame? Well, they do, as they are capable of jumping¬†over 15 metres (50 feet) in length. Well done, Mr. Leopard…well done.

Endangered Species - Snow Leopard Cubs

Photo by Dingopup (Wikimedia)

A Full Course Meal

So how does the Snow Leopard use these adaptations to survive? Most of the adaptations described help this animal regulate their body temperature in a very harsh climate. Although the powerful legs and balancing tail also help this large cat hunt down their tasty lunch (or dinner). Some of the animals on the entree menu include the Blue Sheep and Mountain Ibex while the appetizer menu consists of Marmots, Hares and of course, Game Birds. I guess when you are a large predator living in a tough climate, you will eat anything you can find.

Bad Eating Habits

This eating whatever you find strategy has unfortunately got the Snow Leopard into hot water though, as these prey items often include domestic goats and sheep. Typically, herders don’t like when something kills their livelihood so they respond by killing the predator. This form of hunting has contributed to the sharp decline in this endangered species population, along with poaching and habitat destruction. Maybe it is just me but I think the Snow Leopard is too majestic to go extinct so check out the Snow Leopard Conservancy to see how you can help preserve this large cat population.

 

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