Why are snow leopards endangered
Snow leopard: information in the animal lexicon
General information about the snow leopard
The snow leopard, scientifically Panthera unica, lives in Central Asia and is the most endangered big cat in the world. It is estimated that only 4,000 to 6,600 animals roam the wilderness.
Size and weight of the snow leopard:
Snow leopards measure up to 130 centimeters from the snout to the cat's bottom. The bushy tail "extends" the animals by another meter. They weigh a maximum of 75 kilograms.
Offspring in the snow leopard
After around 100 days of gestation, the females usually give birth to two or three young, which are suckled for at least six months. But from the third week of life, the mini-robbers also sniff meat.
What distinguishes the snow leopard from other big cats:
Although the snow leopard looks mighty and bulky with its fur, it actually weighs less than a leopard in Africa, for example. Even his head is much smaller than that of his relatives. For this he has large nasal and frontal sinuses.
How so? Researchers suspect that he can preheat the icy air, which can be up to minus 40 degrees Celsius, before he sucks it into his lungs. Because the snow leopard lives in the high mountains of Central Asia, at altitudes of up to 6000 meters. And because up there not only a damn cold wind whistles around the rocks, but also often a lot of snow, the robber has special equipment for the extreme climate.
How the snow leopard can withstand the cold mountains:
Its thick, spotted, beige-gray fur adapts to the season: it is shorter in summer and longer in winter. The undercoat on his stomach then grows up to twelve centimeters! So that he doesn't freeze while sleeping, he wraps his bushy tail around his body - which he otherwise uses as a steering wheel during long jump.
The snow leopard can jump really well. It should be able to overcome crevasses up to 16 meters wide in one leap before landing safely on its large paws on the other side. These are hairy on the soles: That keeps his feet warm, of course. In addition, the padding also increases the surface area of the paws. This in turn prevents the predator from sinking deep into the snow while running.
Enemies of the snow leopard:
It is not for nothing that the snow leopard is considered the most threatened big cat in the world. The World Conservation Organization IUCN lists the species as endangered. Presumably only 4,000 to 6,600 animals roam the mountains of Central Asia. This is not the fault of the wolf, its greatest natural enemy.
But the person who literally gets on the fur of the snow leopard - and primarily hunts him because of his fur. This is made into hats, jackets or wall hangings and is primarily sold in Russia and China, although it is not allowed. There are also trophy hunters who pride themselves on killing the big cat. Last but not least, poachers also hunt the prey of the snow leopard, and it finds less to eat.
Help for the snow leopard:
The animals roam solitary through the mountains of twelve countries: Kyrgyzstan, China, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, Kazakhstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. In order to save the animal species, representatives of these states signed an action plan in 2013 and stated that they want to work together much more closely in the future - for example to stop poaching.
In addition, the nature conservation association NABU from Germany has long been committed to the big cats. For example, a group of rangers works in Kyrgyzstan, tracking poachers there, destroying their traps in the mountains, checking fur traders at markets and bringing rescued, injured animals to an enclosure in the city of Ananyevo, where they are cared for and nursed. The rangers have already put an end to more than 200 poachers and traders. And they don't give up! So that the snow leopard can roam through the mountains in peace.
Profile: Snow leopard
- Surname: Snow leopard
- Scientific name: Panthera unica
- size: up to 130 centimeters
- Weight: maximum 75 kilograms
- Life expectancy: maximum 21 years (in captivity)
- habitat: High mountains of Central Asia
- nutrition: Sheep, ibex, goats, marmots, whistle hares, cattle, horses and birds
Big cats in the animal lexicon:
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