From PlanetSKI: Discover more about snow leopards

Sunday October 11, 2009

They are one of the most beautiful animals on the planet, but they are an endangered species. Here on PlanetSKI we set out to discover a little bit more about them.

We first wrote about snow leopards when we found they were being bred in captivity in a zoo in Wales and that this was part of a much wider breeding programme across the globe.

Without this there is a genuine fear they may become extinct.

Its estimated there are 3,500 left in the world and a recent survey in Nepal revealed the numbers have dropped to 300 – 400 in the area; a fall of 25% on the previous year.

Snow leopard habitatThe animals live in the mountains of Central Asia and Russia.

They have evolved to be able to cope with the cold, snowy conditions with thick fur, a stocky body, wide feet and small ears.

They also have a long tail, the same size as the rest of their body, that helps with balance as they walk over snow; they also wrap it round themselves like a blanket when asleep.

They live 15-18 years and can bring down and kill an animal three times bigger than itself. They can leap an incredible 14m when they ambush their prey.

Recently a camera trap caught a rare photo of a snow leopard in the wild in north-east Afghanistan.

For further video of these animals see this video section on the BBC wildlife web site that has some quite stunning footage of these rare animals.

For further news on the breeding programme in Wales and video of the new born cubs see this story.

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