Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

name = Snow LeopardMSW3 Wozencraft | pages = 548|id=14000269]
status = EN
status_system = iucn3.1
status_ref =IUCN2008|assessors=Jackson, R., Mallon, D., McCarthy, T., Chundaway, R.A. & Habib, B.|year=2008|id=22732|title=Panthera uncia|downloaded=9 October 2008]
trend = left

regnum = Animalia
phylum = Chordata
classis = Mammalia
ordo = Carnivora
familia = Felidae
subfamilia = Pantherinae
genus = "Uncia"
species = "U. uncia"
binomial = "Uncia uncia"

range_map_caption=Range map
binomial_authority = (Schreber, 1775)
The snow leopard ("Uncia uncia"), sometimes known as the ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia from Afghanistan, Northern India (Himalayas), northern Pakistan, to Lake Baikal and eastern Tibet. The taxonomic position of this species has been subject to change. In the past, many taxonomists included the snow leopard in the genus "Panthera", with several of the other largest felids, but later it was placed in its own genus, "Uncia". However, a recent molecular study places the species firmly within the genus "Panthera", although the exact position remains unclear.Johnson, W.E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W.J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E. & O'Brien, S.J. 2006. [ The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: A genetic assessment.] Science 311: 73-77; access date = September 26, 2006] It cannot roar, despite possessing an incomplete ossification of the hyoid bone, which was thought to be essential in allowing the big cats to roar. However, new studies show that the ability to roar is due to other morphological features, especially of the larynx, which are absent in the snow leopard.cite book | last = Nowak | first = Ronald M. | title = Walker's Mammals of the World | publisher = Johns Hopkins University Press | date = 1999 | id = ISBN 0-8018-5789-9] Well known for its beautiful fur, the snow leopard has a whitish-tan coat with ringed spots of dark, ashy-brown and rosettes of black. Its tail is heavy with fur and the bottom of its paws are covered with fur for protection against snow and cold.

The life span of a snow leopard is normally 15–18 years, but in captivity it can live up to 20 years.


The snow leopard usually lives above the tree line on mountainous meadows and in rocky regions at an altitude of Convert|2700|m|ft|abbr=on to Convert|6000|m|ft|abbr=on. In winter, it comes down into the forests at an altitude of about Convert|2000|m|ft|abbr=on. It leads largely a solitary life, although mothers can rear cubs for extended periods of time in cave dens in the mountains. It is an opportunistic feeder, eating whatever meat it can find and kills animals three times its size, including domestic livestock. Its diet consists mainly of ibexes, the Bharal, the Markhor, the Urial, deer, boars, as well as pikas, marmots and other small rodents. It ambushes prey from above when possible, as it can jump as far as Convert|14|m|ft|sp=us.cite web | work = San Diego Zoo | year = 2007 | url = | title = Animal Bytes: snow leopard | accessdate = 2007-05-05] Its agility often proves helpful when ambushing prey and traversing through mountains.

An individual snow leopard lives within a well defined home range. However, it does not defend its range aggressively when encroached upon by other individuals. Home ranges can vary greatly in size. In Nepal, where prey is abundant, a home range can be as small as Convert|12|km2|mi2|0|sp=us|abbr=on to Convert|39|km2|mi2|0|abbr=on and up to 5 to 10 animals are found here per Convert|100|km2|mi2|0|abbr=on; whereas, in habitats with sparse prey, an area of Convert|1000|km2|mi2|0|abbr=on supports only 5 of these cats.


The snow leopard's range in central and south Asia is rugged mountainous regions of approximately 1,230,000 square kilometers, which extends through 12 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

The geographic distribution streches from the Hindukush in eastern Afghanistan and the Syr Darya through the mountains of Pamir Tien Shan, Karakorum, Kashmir, Kunlun, and the Himalaya to southern Siberia, where the range covers the russian Altai, Sajan, Tannu-Ola Mountains and the mountains to the west of Lake Baikal. In Mongolia it is found in the Mongolian and Gobi Altai and the Khangai Mountains. In Tibet it is found up to the Altyn-Tagh in the North. [Mammals of the Soviet Union. Vol III: Carnivores (Feloidea).]

Population and conservation

The total "wild" population of the snow leopard is estimated at between 4,000 and 7,500 individuals (see table below). In 1972 the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, (IUCN) placed the snow leopard on its Red List of Threatened Species as "Endangered," the same classification given the panda and the tiger.

There are also 600-700 snow leopards in zoos around the world.cite web | work = Snow Leopard Trust | year = 2008 | url = | title = Population and Protections | accessdate = 2008-07-03]

Protected Areas:
* Chitral Gol National Park, in the NWFP, Pakistan.
* Hemis National Park, in east Ladakh, India.
* Khunjerab National Park, Northern Areas, Pakistan.
* Nanda Devi National Park, in state of Uttarakhand, India, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. [UNESCO World Heritage Centre [ Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks. Brief Description] . Retrieved 27 November 2006.]
* Qomolangma National Nature Preserve, Tibet, China. Snow Leopard Conservancy. 2006. [ "Training park managers in the conservation of snow leopards"] . Retrieved 27 November 2006.]
* Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site. [ UNESCO World Heritage Center. [ Sagarmatha National Park: Brief Description] . Retrieved 27 November 2006.]
* Tumor Feng Nature Reserve, western Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang, China. [ Snow Leopard Network. 2005. [ "Camera Trapping of Snow Leopards in the Muzat Valley"] . Retrieved 27 November 2006.]
* Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttaranchal, India, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
* Shey-Phoksundo National Park, Dolpa, Nepal.
* Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve,Baglung, Nepal.
* Annapurna Conservation Area, Western Nepal.
* Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan
* Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Mongolia
* Ubsunur Hollow, on the territorial border of Mongolia and the Republic of Tuva

Much progress has been made in securing the survival of the snow leopard, with snow leopards being successfully bred in captivity. The animals usually give birth to 2 to 3 cubs in a litter, but can give birth to up to 7 in some cases.

Conservation efforts

There are numerous agencies working to conserve the snow leopard and its threatened mountain ecosystems. These include the Snow Leopard Trust, the Snow Leopard Conservancy and the Snow Leopard Network. These groups and numerous snow leopard range country governments, non-profits and donors from around the world recently worked together at the 10th International Snow Leopard Conference in Beijing. Their focus on research, community programs in snow leopard regions and education programs are aimed at understanding the cat's needs as well as the needs of the villagers and herder communities impacting snow leopards' lives and habitat. [Theile, Stephanie “Fading footprints; the killing and trade of snow leopards” TRAFFIC International, 2003]

now leopard in heraldry

The snow leopard (almost invariably known in heraldry as the ounce) (Aq Bars) is a national symbol for Tatars and Kazakhs: a snow leopard is found on the official seal of the city of Almaty, and a winged snow leopard is found on Tatarstan's coat of arms. A similar leopard is featured at the coat of arms of North Ossetia-Alania. The snow leopard award was given to Soviet mountaineers who scaled all five of the Soviet Union's 7000m peaks. In addition, the snow leopard is the symbol of the Girl Scout Association of Kyrgyzstan.


External links

* [ Snow leopard photo gallery at National Geographic]
*ARKive - [ images and movies of the Snow leopard "(Uncia uncia)"]
* [ PBS Nature: "Silent Roar: Searching for the Snow Leopard"]
* [ Snow Leopard Trust]
* [ Snow Leopard Conservancy] ( [ range map] )
* [ Wildlife Conservation Network (WCN)]

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Look at other dictionaries:

  • Snow leopard — Snow Snow, n. [OE. snow, snaw, AS. sn[=a]w; akin to D. sneeuw, OS. & OHG. sn[=e]o, G. schnee, Icel. sn[ae]r, snj[=o]r, snaj[=a]r, Sw. sn[ o], Dan. snee, Goth. snaiws, Lith. sn[ e]gas, Russ. snieg , Ir. & Gael. sneachd, W. nyf, L. nix, nivis, Gr.… …   The Collaborative International Dictionary of English

  • snow leopard — n. a large, whitish cat (Panthera uncia) of the mountains of central Asia, having many dark blotches on its long, thick fur …   English World dictionary

  • Snow leopard — This article is about the cat. For other uses, see Snow leopard (disambiguation). Snow leopard Conservation status …   Wikipedia

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  • Snow Leopard — Mac OS X v10.6 Mac OS X v10.6, souvent appelé par son nom de code Snow Leopard (once), est le système d exploitation actuel destiné aux ordinateurs Macintosh d Apple. Il a succédé le 28 août[1] 2009 à Mac OS X v10.5 « Leopard ». Il a… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • snow leopard — a long haired, leopardlike feline, Panthera (Uncia) uncia, of mountain ranges of central Asia, having a relatively small head and a thick, creamy gray coat with rosette spots: an endangered species. Also called ounce2. [1865 70] * * * or ounce… …   Universalium

  • snow leopard — snieginis leopardas statusas T sritis zoologija | vardynas taksono rangas rūšis atitikmenys: lot. Uncia uncia angl. ounce; snow leopard vok. Irbis; Schneeleopard rus. ирбис; снежный барс; снежный леопард pranc. léopard des neiges; panthère des… …   Žinduolių pavadinimų žodynas

  • snow leopard — snow′ leop ard n. zool. mam a longhaired, leopardlike cat, Panthera (Uncia) uncia, of mountains of central Asia, having a creamy gray coat with rosette spots Also called ounce II Etymology: 1865–70 …   From formal English to slang

  • snow leopard — noun Date: 1866 a large cat (Panthera uncia syn. Uncia uncia) of upland central Asia with long heavy grayish white fur irregularly marked with brownish black spots, rosettes, and rings …   New Collegiate Dictionary

  • snow leopard — noun a large feline mammal, Uncia uncia, native to mountain ranges of central Asia Syn: ounce …   Wiktionary

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