What are the predators of the snow leopards

Snow leopards are the rarest predators in the world

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Snow leopards are the rarest predators in the world

Snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia, for example in the Himalayas. Unfortunately, they are almost extinct in the wild. Their population has decreased to around 4,500 to 7,500 individuals. This makes the snow leopards the rarest predators in the world.

This is why it is particularly important to breed this rare species in zoos. On May 12, 2004, three snow leopard sisters came from the zoo in Krakow (Poland) to the Nuremberg zoo. The one-year-old animals will stay here for the next few years and will hopefully have young ones later as part of a breeding program. Around 600 snow leopards live in zoos around the world.

High up the mountains as a living space

Snow leopards are at home in the mountainous regions of twelve Asian countries. These include Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, India and Nepal as well as Afghanistan, northern India and Tajikistan. They can live at altitudes of up to 6000 meters, but in winter they follow their prey to lower regions (up to 1600 meters). These include ibex, wild sheep, goats, rabbits, wild boars and also smaller rodents.

In order to make good progress in the mountains, snow leopards have to be good climbers. You can jump far too. Once a snow leopard was seen jumping 15 meters from one rock to the next.

The animals hunt in deep snow. That is why they keep using certain paths that they have trodden themselves. However, if too much snow falls, they have to retreat to sunnier areas.

Snow leopards like to stay in ravines and on steep slopes. Such zones offer protection on the one hand to the leopard itself, but also to its prey, which want to hide here until it tracks them down.

Big areas for just one?

The areas that a snow leopard roams are not exactly manageable. However, the territories of different cats overlap. Usually snow leopards are solitary, but they stay together as steady pairs during the mating season from January to March.

As a rule, the females give birth to two to three young, which are suckled for about half a year. However, after three weeks they also start eating meat. Big cats do not become sexually mature until they are three years old. That's how long they usually stay with their mother.

Coveted skins difficult to protect the snow leopards

Snow leopards have to compensate for extreme temperature fluctuations from 40 degrees in winter to +40 degrees in summer. Their fur is uniquely suited for this. In addition, it is also very pretty to look at due to its spotted pattern on the gray-beige background. For these reasons, the snow leopard skins are very popular.

Hunting these rare animals has long been banned, but poachers do not obey the law, especially when a lot of money can be made from selling the skins. An additional problem is that the countries in which snow leopards live are for the most part very poor and at the same time have very problematic political systems in which animal welfare laws are impossible or very difficult to enforce.

Will you be a snow leopard godfather?

The nature conservation association NABU has launched an initiative to protect the snow leopards. There you can, for example, sponsor a snow leopard.
More on this at http://www.schneeleopard.de/.

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