EXCLUSIVE: International Snow Leopard Day 2021: Experts share interesting facts about the mysterious cat


If we occur to ask you which ones is the closest species to a snow leopard? Your reply, most likely, shall be a leopard, in fact. However what if we let you know that it’s not? And that it’s truly nearer to a tiger, in contrast to the identify suggests. Shocking sufficient? There may be extra. They’re the one cats within the Panthera species that can’t roar. Why, you ask?

“It’s due to the totally different physiology of their throats. The non-aggressive sound that they make is known as a chuff,” Rohit Rattan, Affiliate Coordinator, Western Himalayas Programme, WWF India, tells you.

Additionally, this massive cat is extraordinarily adaptable as they’re discovered often between 10000 to 20000 ft above the ocean degree. “One of many lesser-known information of the snow leopard is that every snow leopard can have about 100 sq km space as its territory to hunt and look out for appropriate mates,” Janaki Mohanachandran, Senior Mission Officer, Snow Leopard Program, WWF India, tells you.

Now that you understand that the cat is discovered on excessive slopes, you have to be questioning the way it doesn’t fall whereas leaping from right here to there. The magic lies in its tail. “They’ve a protracted and furry tail which helps the animal in balancing whereas traversing by the steep and rugged cliffs particularly whereas racing behind their wild prey down the steep and treacherous inclines,” explains Rattan.

Whereas not many people have been lucky sufficient to have seen a snow leopard, in case you are one of many luckiest, you’ll know the way it feels to face in entrance of the majestic being with trembling legs, and glittering eyes. Nonetheless, you may be shocked to know, it isn’t as aggressive because it appears to be.

“The snow leopard is a shy species and there haven’t been any reviews of it being aggressive in direction of people,” says Rattan.

 International Snow Leopard Day 2021

This probably the most sought-after massive cats is a prey to a number of myths, too. Listed below are some. “In India, particularly the japanese Himalayas, snow leopards are revered as guardians of the mountains and infrequently folks imagine that the mountain deities are upset with them if their livestock is killed by a snow leopard. This perception system is definitely an intricate element to the prevailing livestock depredation brought on by snow leopards and dholes within the japanese Himalayas, because the folks of those harsh landscapes navigate by loss, their religious beliefs and the connection they share with their setting,” says Mohanachandran.

Rattan provides and tells you that in Nepal, it’s believed that the snow leopards in addition to home cats have taken beginning to take away the sins of their previous lives, and in the event you kill them, their sins will switch to your life. “In Pakistan, the Wakhi ethnic folks take into account the high-altitude rangelands as sacred landscapes the place supernatural powers have a tendency their flocks of untamed goats. They imagine that these supernatural powers are protectors of excessive mountains and should not be displeased by misdeeds. If angered, they might trigger financial losses to these liable for the misdeeds. They liken the snow leopard (referred to as ‘pes’ in Wakhi language) to the fairies which shield you but when indignant they’ll punish you as nicely,” Rattan tells you.

Nonetheless, amongst all this, what, typically, goes unnoticed is the truth that the snow leopard is listed as susceptible on IUCN- World Conservation Union’s Purple Listing.

Rattan says that there haven’t been any dependable estimates because the species has remained fairly under-researched each in India and globally. There have been just some guesses or estimates about their inhabitants which counsel that there could also be round 400-500 people in India whereas there could also be 4000-6500 people discovered throughout the 12 snow leopard vary international locations.  He lists among the threats that the species is going through.

“One, heightened ranges of habitat disturbance and degradation are the first risk to the species. Two, poorly deliberate infrastructure initiatives together with the linear infrastructure fragment their habitat. Three, ever-increasing numbers of home livestock put its prey-base in addition to the rangelands beneath stress. 4, livestock predation by snow leopards typically pitches people towards them. 5, free-ranging and feral canine typically hunt their prey and pose an undue competitors for them. Six, insufficient analysis specializing in the species and its ecosystems,” opines Rattan.

With the species struggling to outlive with so many threats, one might surprise what makes the conservation of tigers and lions steal the limelight. Mohanachandran has a solution.

 International Snow Leopard Day 2021

“I feel all through the historical past of conservation in India, we’ve got had a species targeted conservation effort. And because the snow leopard inhabits the Himalayan States, the challenges that include local weather change and improvement induced environmental change have taken the middle stage. And I imagine that we’re on the appropriate path of specializing in a extra holistic strategy of conserving the panorama with its cultural and pure heritage as they change into an integral half within the conservation of the species itself,” he opines.

Additionally, while you evaluate snow leopards to the opposite massive cats, they’re much much less studied and really much less is understood about them. “They’re restricted to alpine Himalayan rangelands with altitudes of greater than 3000 meters and subsequently solely a decided few search to achieve them. Whereas then again tiger and lion are family names. The principle cause for tigers and lions stealing the limelight is as a result of they’ve been occupying a big portion of the mainland Indian jungles. There has additionally been a whole lot of analysis on Tigers since a way back. Tiger-tourism and safaris put them on a pedestal lengthy again,” opines Rattan.

 International Snow Leopard Day 2021

Nonetheless, the silver lining is that efforts are being made at a number of ranges to preserve the snow leopards and their prey base. The Mission Snow Leopard which was began within the yr 2009 has chalked out an inclusive and participatory strategy to preserve snow leopards and their habitat. “Below the ambit of Mission Snow Leopard, varied field-based conservation methods are being rolled out by varied organisations to make sure that the threats to the species might be minimised. Presently, efforts are occurring in all of the Himalayan States of India for snow leopard inhabitants evaluation. Recently, the much-needed impetus is being given to snow leopard analysis. Whereas rather a lot is being executed, there may be nonetheless rather a lot to be executed to make sure that the conservation is ecosystem-based and holistic,” says Rattan.

And in case you didn’t know, the massive cat with thick fur can also be referred to as the Ghost of the Mountains. “Like talked about earlier than, they’re discovered within the very rugged, steep and high-altitude mountainous areas which aren’t simply accessible and subsequently are essentially the most elusive of all massive cats. And since they’re so elusive and there was little or no recognized in regards to the species, they’re thought of very mysterious and also known as ‘Ghost of the Mountains,’” concludes Rattan.

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