Thursday, January 14, 2010

Snow Leopards - a beautiful animal on the verge of extinction

Pakistan is among few lucky countries where snow leopards can be found high up in the snow bound areas of its northern region, specially in Khunjrab (bordering China). They are found at altitudes varying between 3,000 and 5,500 metres .  

This beautiful animal, now on the verge of extinction, has thick hair, wide fur-covered feet that act as natural snowshoes. These leopards have powerful legs which aid them in jumping as far as 50 feet. They use their long tails for balance and as blankets to cover sensitive body parts against the severe mountain chill. Their favourite meal is devouring the poor Blue Sheep and mountain ibex. The snow leopard does not roar like other big cats of Africa and India. Rather it has a sort of a chuffing /sneezing sound that it emits to attract attention during its mating.

The snow leopard has a cryptic nature of hiding from people, or even its prey, until the final rush when it can catch something. There are generally no reported cases of snow leopards being man-eaters. In fact, they are so non-aggressive and so timid in a number of cases where a snow leopard got into a corral with the livestock, the herdsmen simply got in with a club and beat it to death.  

At present, only a few hundred of these beautiful animals are left in Pakistan and a few thousands the world over. If their unabated hunting continues, a few years from hence, these animals will only be seen in zoos or in picture books. The snow leopard is listed in the IUCN’s Red List of Threatened Animals as Endangered.

Nisar Malik, a Pakistani journalist along with cameraman Mark Smith, spent 18 months following this most enigmatic of animals. Thus eventually gaining valuable insights into the day to day life of the snow leopards. Set in the wilds of the Hindu Kush, this film profiles a much misunderstood part of the world, going beyond the myth to tell the snow leopard's real story. Watch the first part of the video below. You may watch the complete series of six episodes from YouTube.

Related Reading:

Fauna and Endangered Wildlife of Pakistan (Pakistanpaedia)

Snow Leopard Conservation in Pakistan

Snow Leopards (Wikipedia)
Snow Leopard Photo Courtesy Wikipedia

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Snow Leopard said...

A strategic plan for the conservation of snow leopards in Pakistan was presented on April 20, 2001 by an international NGO in collaboration with the International Snow Leopard Trust in Gilgit. The presentation was attended by a large number of potential partners and stakeholders. It was revealed there "the total remaining population of snow leopard (Panthera uncia) - a globally endangered species - is estimated around 7,000-10,000, out of which approximately 300 are found in Pakistan. Some of the critical habitats of the snow leopard have been identified by the NGO and it is being planed to extend scope of activities by focusing on identifying critical habitats in NWFP, AJK and Northern Areas.

What happened to the plan, like all others in Pakistan, is anyone's guess?

Doll said...

What a graceful beast?