Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard cub (7 mos old) - Cape May County Zoo

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Snow Leopards & the Snow Leopard Trust

Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are one of the world’s most magnificent cats (in my opinion they top the list). They belong to the genus most people associate with wild  (big) cats, Panthera, who can't purr but instead roar.  Unlike their relatives in Felis, which are the “purrers.” 
Unfortunately, there are only estimated to be between 3,500 and 7,000 of these cats left in the wild. The wide range in estimation is due to the difficulty in tracking or finding even one of these cats. They are elusive and shy and live in the very remote, harsh environments of Central Asia. Their range covers 2 million square miles! 
Why are they disappearing? 
They are hunted for their pelts and sometimes bone/body parts used in Asian medicine but also they can be a problem to local herders by killing domesticated livestock. There is also some habitat loss. 

They are not generally aggressive cats, even when their ranges overlap (they are solitary and do not “hang out” together until mating season). There has never been a documented attack on a human.
Size: 60-120 lbs
Body length: 39-51 inches (and the tail can be almost as long as their bodies!)

Gestation: 90-100 days, typically 2-3 cubs which remain with mom until they are close
to 2 yrs of age.
The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) works to further study, understand and document all sorts of things regarding snow leopards (they have some cats tagged and you can see their movements over time), their lives and habitats. SLT also works with locals to help in what they call “community-based conservation.” They give the locals a stake in ensuring that these cats survive. One of the main ways they do this is by helping the locals protect and increase the health of their livestock (on which they so desperately depend for a meager living) and also to compensate those who have lost animals to a snow leopard.  In addition, they promote hand crafted items from these regions that they sell on their website. 
My dream would be to have a blog where I’d write about my experiences WITH the snow leopards in Asia. Who knows, maybe someday it will be reality.
In the meantime, I highly recommend going to their website ( or I have a link on the right hand side of this page, to learn more about snow leopards, subscribe to a monthly newsletter, or check out some of the cool products they sell. Beside products made in Asia, artists from all over the US and world will frequently sell photos or drawings of these beautiful cats in various forms. Most recently the website mentioned a product called  Snow Leopard Vodka (combining two things I love!:)  that was donating a portion (for a time even 100%) of profits to the SLT.  Their website is:   I don’t know if this is available locally but if so, you know I’ll buy it. And keep the bottle!

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