Snow Leopard in India, Snow Leopard, Endangered Snow Leopard, Endangered Animals in India, Endangered Species Snow Leopard, Physical Characteristics of Snow Leopard, Habitat of Snow Leopard.

Snow Leopard
[Wild Animals in India]

The Snow Leopard, seen in the Himalayan regions of India is a beautiful animal, which looks different from the leopard found in more tropical regions. The snow leopard has a thick coat of silver gray fur, marked with black spots and rosettes, which helps it blend into the snow covered terrain where it lives.

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Zoological name: Uncea uncea

Range: The snow leopard in found in India in areas with an altitude of above 3200 m (10,500 feet). It is seen in the Himalayan regions of North India, including the northern states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, and Uttar Pradesh, and the North Eastern states of Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Worldwide snow leopards are found in the mountainous regions of Central Asia, China, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan.

Estimated population: It is estimated that there are around 4500 - 7350 snow leopards in the world. The high rocky terrain in which they live in the wild, makes accurate enumeration of snow leopards a difficult task.

Physical characteristics: The thick coat of the snow leopard consists of a dense undercoat and a thick outer layer of fur about 2 inches long. The pale silver gray pelt is marked with dark rosettes and spots and a often a dark line along the spine. The fur on the chest and belly, which is white, grows up to 4 inches in length. An adult male snow leopard can grow up to 7 feet, including a 3-foot long tail. It is about 2 feet tall and weighs 25-40 Kg. It has short forelimbs and large paws which help it walk on snowy terrain and climb rocky cliffs.

Habitat: Snow Leopards are found in rocky mountainous regions of Asia coming down in winter to areas of shrub or even grassy vegetation. In some areas of Central Asia, it is found in coniferous forests.

Diet: Snow Leopards prefer to hunt at night or in twilight; they are nocturnal or crepuscular animals. It the dominant predator in the areas where it is found and feeds on mountain goats and sheep, deer, wild pigs, various small mammals such as marmots, hares, large birds such as partridges and in areas of human encroachment on domestic livestock.

Behavior: Snow Leopards are usually solitary creatures. A pair of leopards may sometimes live together but a more usual group is that of a mother and her young cubs. Usually 1-3 cubs are born and live with the mother for over a year, until they are able to hunt for themselves.

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Status: Snow Leopards are an endangered species. Snow leopards are protected in all the countries where it is found. However it continues to be hunted for its beautiful fur and due to its perception as a predator of livestock. The poisoning of small mammals such as marmots in Tibet has also led to the loss of Snow Leopards feeding on poisoned prey. Recently due to the increased protection of the tiger and therefore the decline in the availability of tiger bones used in oriental medicine, snow leopard poaching has also increased.

Tourists can see the Snow Leopard in the following national parks in India: Dachigam National Park in Jammu and Kashmir and wildlife sanctuaries in Darjeeling and the Namdapha National Park in Arunachal Pradesh.

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