About the snow leopard

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Irbis (Snow Leopard)


Uncia Uncia

Order: Carnivores (Carnivora)

Family: cat (Felidae)

Genus: Leopards (Uncia)


Under the protection of:

Protection category 1 - endangered view of the periphery of the area.

Listed in the Red Book of Russia, the IUCN Red List-96, Appendix 1 of CITES. Protected in the Sayano-Shushenskiy and Altai reserves.


Habitat areas:

Among the members of the big cat family the snow leopard is the only permanent inhabitant of the Central Asia highlands. Found in the subalpine and alpine zones at altitudes over 2,500 meters above sea level. The snow leopard is adapted to living in harsh climatic conditions. Optimal habitat conditions - the presence of rocks and shallow snow cover.

Natural habitat includes territories of 13 countries: Afghanistan, Burma, Bhutan, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

Snow leopards inhabit the territories of the Hindu Kush in eastern Afghanistan and the Syr Darya, the mountains of Pamir, Tien Shan, Karakoram, Kashmir, Kunlun, and the Himalaya to southern Siberia, mountains Altai, Sayan, Tannu-Ola and the mountains to the west of Lake Baikal . In Mongolia, it was seen on the Mongolian Altai, Gobi Altai and Khangai Mountains. In Tibet it is found up to Altunshanya in the north.

The northwestern part of the snow leopard natural habitat is in the territory of Russia. The total area of the probable habitat of  the snow leopard in Russia is about 60,000 square kilometers. It is found in the Krasnoyarsk Region, Khakassia, Tyva and Altai Republic, and Tunkinskie and Kitoi loach. However, there is a gradual reduction and fragmentation of the habitat.

The snow leopard inhabits mainly rocky terrain in the alpine and subalpine areas of the highlands, areas of strongly indented landscape and abundance of ungulates. In some areas, particularly in the Western Sayan, the snow leopard lives in finely snow areas of lower mountain zone, inhabiting the zone of tree and shrub vegetation.



Body length is up to 130 cm, tail length is 90-100 cm. Withers height - 50-60 cm. Males are slightly larger than females. Body weight of males reaches 45-55 kg, females - 22-40 kg. No sexual dimorphism.



In the wild the snow leopard lives no more than 20 years, in captivity - up to 28 years.


Interesting facts:

Snow leopards are very playful, love to roll in the snow. They often slide down a steep hill at the back and at the end they quickly turn over and fall into the snow on all four paws. After the games, or hunting they make themselves comfortable to bask in the sun.

Being in a good mood, the snow leopard purrs just like a house cat.


Prepared by the research staff of the Sayano-Shushenskiy Reserve