The Big Cat of the Mountains

The snow leopard is a beautiful animal. It has a greyish white coat, with black markings similar to the leopard’s spots. This helps it to blend perfectly into the snowy, mountainous land where it lives.

The Snow Leopard, also called Ounce, is found mostly in the Himalayan region. Its thick fur protects it from the harsh cold. It is a powerful animal.

Unlike other big cats like tigers and lions, the snow leopards don’t really roar.
They have been classified as ‘vulnerable’, which means that there are dangerously few of these animals still living in the wild in the world. They are so hard to spot that it’s not possible to be accurate about how many snow leopards are there in India, but there’s no doubt that the numbers are decreasing alarmingly.

Himachal Pradesh has the most number of snow leopards. The villagers struggling to make a living in the foothills of the Himalayas aren’t too fond of these big cats because they attack their sheep and cattle. The snow leopard’s natural prey are the blue sheep, the ibex, and even hares. But these wild animals are decreasing because people are taking over the areas where they grazed, to rear sheep and cattle. So the snow leopard is forced to prey on the domestic animals.

However, the Government of India started Project Snow Leopard to protect this beautiful beast, and the local people are cooperating to see that the Ounce survives.

The snow leopard population shows how healthy the environment is. If there are many, it shows that there is sufficient prey for them, which in turn means that the forests and grasslands are safe for wild animals.

The Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Himachal Pradesh is a protected area for the snow leopard.

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