The elegant snow leopard is one of the world’s most elusive cats. These rare, beautiful gray leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia. They are insulated by thick hair, and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Snow leopards have powerful legs and are tremendous leapers, able to jump as far as 50 feet (15 meters).
Snow leopards are solitary creatures. They usually hunt at dawn and dusk. They’re successful predators, able to kill prey up to three times their own weight.
Hear the voice of the snow leopard!
These endangered cats appear to be in dramatic decline because of such killings, and due to poaching driven by illegal trades in pelts and in body parts used for traditional Chinese medicine. Vanishing habitat and the decline of the cats’ large mammal prey are also contributing factors.
Poaching, conflict with people and loss of prey are persistent threats to this rare cat. Over the past 20 years, snow leopard numbers have declined by at least 20% – though exact numbers are uncertain because these cats are so elusive.