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Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is a solitary large cat inhabiting alpine and subalpine mountainous areas of central and south Asia. It is well adapted for living in harsh, high-altitude environments and can be found hunting ungulates or other mammals and birds in steep, rocky terrain.
Snow LeopardHistorically, the snow leopard was distributed throughout the mountain ranges of central and southern Asia. There may be as few as 3,000 – 7,000 snow leopards found in the wild, inhabiting Russia, Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, China, Afghanistan, Pakistan, India, Nepal and Bhutan. In Afghanistan, scientists estimate only 50-100 snow leopards remain. This number is a rough estimate and more information is required to better understand population dynamics of the snow leopard in Afghanistan.
A major threat to the survival of the snow leopard in Afghanistan and within the region is hunting. Snow leopards are often killed by local villagers in retaliation for livestock predation or to sell the skins in markets. A snow leopard pelt can fetch up to $1,500 in Kabul markets that target foreigners. However, the snow leopard is strictly protected internationally and in Afghanistan. Globally, it is an endangered species and is prohibited from any commercial international trade by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). The snow leopard has also been declared a protected species by Afghanistan, meaning that hunting and trade of this species is strictly prohibited.
The snow leopard has whitish-grey fur with light to dark grey rosettes or spots covering its head and body. The tail may be up to one meter in length, which is about 75-90% of body length.


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Heidi Kretser, Ph.D.
Wildlife Conservation Society 7 Brandy Brook Ave Saranac Lake, NY 12983 USA
518 891-8872 ext 105