The Elusive Mountain Ghost
The snow leopard is part of the cat family and found in the Himalayan alpine regions of central Asia. It prefers steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides good cover and clear view to help it sneak up on its prey. Snow Leopards are shy, elusive and are fondly called “mountain ghosts”. They inhabit some of the harshest conditions of any species, amid towering mountain ranges and in often subzero conditions, but these rare and beautiful grey cats are supremely adapted to the harsh and rugged landscape. A snow leopard’s coat allows it to blend in with the rocks while the thick fur on the soles of its feet insulates the paws against the snow in the winter. The enlarged nasal cavities help it to breathe in high altitudes.
The snow leopard is about 2 feet tall and its tail is as long- and sometimes longer- than its body. It weighs about as much as an adult human. When it is resting, the snow leopard wraps its tail around itself like a blanket. The tail also helps the snow leopard to balance when it is leaping from rock to rock in the mountains that are its home. The snow leopard’s diet consists of wild sheep, wild boars, gazelles, hares, markhor, bobak, tahr, marmots, mice and deer.
The snow leopard is threatened by climate change which has led to habitat loss and a decline of its prey. Illegal hunting is another threat. There are organizations and parks throughout the world, which serve to protect them.