‘THE SILENT ROAR’
Snow leopards are found at altitudes between 9,800 and 17,000 feet in the high, rugged mountains of Central Asia. Their range spans from Afghanistan to Kazakhstan and Pakistan in the north to India and China in the east. China contains about 60% of the snow leopard habitat. They have already disappeared from certain parts of Mongolia, which is part of their historic range.
Snow leopards prefer to inhabit steep cliff areas, rocky outcrops and ravines. Such habitats provide them with the camouflage they need to ambush unsuspecting prey. They stalk their prey and usually spring from a distance of 20 – 50 feet. Their long and powerful hind limbs help snow leopards leap up to 30 feet, which is six times their body length.
Very rare in most of their range, an estimated 3,500 to 7,000 snow leopards are left in the wild, with 600 – 700 in zoos around the world. Exact numbers in the wild have not been determined due to the snow leopard’s shy nature.
Snow leopards have light green or grey eyes, unusual for big cats, who usually have yellow or gold eyes.