5 Cool Cats in the Wild


Himalayan Snow Leopard

snow leopard
Snow leopards are perfectly suited to their environment: The white and gray spotted coat offers camouflage, and fur on the pads of their feet provide warmth and grip. Public Domain

If you don't mind seeing carnage in the wilderness, check out this video of a Himalayan snow leopard (Panthera uncia) hunting a mountain sheep called a bharal (Pseudois nayaur). The thing about it is that the cat actually survives a 400-foot (121-meter) tumble down a sheer mountain slope featuring several cliff-drops that should have killed it. The bharal dies and the snow leopard feasts for days.

Snow leopards are uniquely suited to their environment, with a white and gray spotted coat for perfect camouflage and fur on the pads of their feet for warmth and grip. Our favorite feature is the thick tail that contains fat reserves and does double-duty as a stabilizer for balance when the cat is leaping about on icy rocks and a scarf to keep his neck warm at night.

Himalayan snow leopards are found, as the name suggests, throughout Northern India and Nepal. But snow leopards in general are widely distributed throughout the region with significant numbers of them found in Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.

An organization called the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program unites all these countries in an effort to protect the big cat's habitat. The current goal is to set aside enough land to protect 20 healthy populations of snow leopards by 2020.