Snow leopards are powerful and beautiful big cats, native to the mountains of central Asia. Insulated by thick hair and possessing wide, fur-covered feet that act as natural snowshoes, they are well adapted to their environment. Their long tails, which help in maintaining their incredible balance, double as blankets against severe cold.
The harsh conditions of the snow leopard’s natural habitat makes the animal hard to study, so researchers and wildlife experts and photographers plant recording devices near snow leopard ranges in hopes of getting some footage of them. Recently, one photographer got extremely lucky.
In February of this year, Matse Rangja found thirty seconds of video of a snow leopard on one of the cameras he’d hidden in China’s Burhan Budai Mountains. This is only the second time in eight years that he’s been able to capture the cat on film.
According to the World Wildlife Fund, about six thousand snow leopards remain. They are currently in dramatic decline because of killings by herders, who see the cats as threats to their domestic animals; poaching, driven by illegal trades in pelts and in body parts used for traditional medicines; vanishing habitats; and declining mammal prey.
Watch Matse Rangja’s rare footage below. Then, read about Natural Habitat Adventures’ new Mongolia snow leopard trip. Not only will you have the extraordinary opportunity to track this elusive cat with World Wildlife Fund scientists but you’ll also meet traditional nomadic herders who are community partners with the Snow Leopard Trust. Learn firsthand about their centuries-old lifestyle and customs and discover how they are pioneering methods for living in harmony with snow leopards, in the world they share.Written By Candice Gaukel Andrews.