Snow leopards have evolved to live in some of the harshest conditions on Earth. They live across a vast area in northern and central Asia's high mountains, including the Himalayan region but their population is dropping. In the Himalayas, snow leopards live in high alpine areas, mostly above the tree line and up to 18,000 feet in elevation. These beautiful creatures are insulated by thick hair in shades of grey or creamy yellow and covered with grayish black spots and their wide, fur-covered feet act as natural snowshoes. Snow leopards have powerful legs and are tremendous jumpers, able to leap as far as 50 feet and they use their long tails for balance and as blankets to cover sensitive body parts against the severe mountain chill. They are shy and reclusive and rarely seen in the wild.
Snow leopards are top predators in their environment, and their prey include mountain sheep and goats. Without the snow leopard, the ecological balance would be disrupted. For example, herbivore populations would increase, resulting in changes to the vegetation, also affecting other wildlife that live in these areas.
The same landscape also provides food and other important resources for the many people who live there – including medicine and wood for shelter, heat and fuel. So by protecting the snow leopard, we’re benefitting the whole natural environment in these areas and the people who rely on it.