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Saturday, December 29, 2012

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Snow Leopard

The snow leopard (Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia) is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia. The classification of this species has been subject to change and is still classified as Uncia uncia by MSW3 as of 2000 and CITES Appendix I. However with more recent genetic studies, the snow leopard is now generally considered as Panthera uncia and classified as such by IUCN. Classically, two subspecies have been attributed but genetic differences between the two have not been settled. The snow leopard remains on the endangered species list classified as C1.

Snow leopards occupy alpine and subalpine areas generally 3,350 and 6,700 metres (10,990 and 22,000 ft) above sea level in Central Asia. The Snow Leopard Survival Strategy (McCarthy et al. 2003, Table II) compiled national snow leopard population estimates, updating the work of Fox (1994). Many of the estimates are acknowledged to be rough and out of date, but the total estimated population is 4,080–6,590. However, the global snow leopard effective population size (those likely to reproduce) is suspected to be fewer than 2,500 (50% of the total population, or 2,040–3,295).

There are numerous agencies working to conserve the snow leopard and its threatened mountain ecosystems. These include the Snow Leopard Trust, the Snow Leopard Conservancy, the Snow Leopard Network, the Cat Specialist Group and the Panthera Corporation. These groups and numerous national governments from the snow leopard’s range, non-profits and donors from around the world recently worked together at the 10th International Snow Leopard Conference in Beijing. Their focus on research, community programs in snow leopard regions and education programs are aimed at understanding the cat's needs as well as the needs of the villagers and herder communities affecting snow leopards' lives and habitat.

You can also see some cute leopard cubs from Berlin zoo HERE.

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