Sunday, November 25, 2007

Last night, prolific local author, freelance writer and wildlife biologist Douglas H. Chadwick spoke with Columbia Falls Troop 41 Scouts about his recent adventures as far away as Antarctica and Nepal, and as close as Glacier Park.

Chadwick, who has authored numerous books, National Geographic stories and other pieces, has several projects coming out in the 2008's National Geographic Magazine. He spoke about two of those stories with the boys of Troop 41 (and numerous othersSnow Leopard Commando, an anti-terror detachment group of China's Armed Police, conducted an anti-terrorist drill in Beijing on Monday.

59 army officers stationed in China from 42 countries watched the drill.

Formed in December 2002, the detachment, set to prevent and combat terrorism, has attended four national anti-terrorist drills as well as the 2007 Sino-Russian anti-terrorism exercise.

Members of the Snow Leopard Commando are currently intensively training for security tasks set for the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Snow Leopard
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Snow Leopard[1]

Conservation status

Endangered (IUCN) [2]
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia

Phylum: Chordata

Class: Mammalia

Order: Carnivora

Family: Felidae

Subfamily: Pantherinae

Genus: Panthera

Species: P. uncia

Binomial name
Panthera uncia
Schreber, 1775

Range map
Uncia uncia

The Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia[3] or Uncia uncia[1]), sometimes known as the Ounce, is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of central and southern Asia. The taxonomic position of this species has been subject to change. In the past, many taxonomists included the Snow Leopard in the genus Panthera, with several of the other largest felids, but later it was placed in its own genus, Uncia. However, most recent molecular studies place the species firmly within the genus Panthera, although the exact position remains unclear.[3] Along with the Clouded Leopard, it represents an intermediate between so-called big cats and smaller species, as it cannot roar, despite possessing a cartilaginous hyoid apparatus which is thought essential in allowing the big cats to roar.[4]

Well known for its beautiful fur, the Snow Leopard has a whitish-tan coat with ringed spots of dark, ashy-brown and rosettes of black . The fur turns white in the winter. Its tail is heavy with fur and the bottom of its paws are covered with fur for protection against snow and cold. The life span of a Snow Leopard is normally 15-18 years, but in captivity they can live up to 20 years.

1 Description
2 Habitat, population, and home range
3 Conservation
4 Snow Leopard in heraldry
5 References
6 External links

[edit] Description
Weighing 35 to 55 kilograms (77-121 lbs),[5] the Snow Leopard can be distinguished from other similar species by its proportionately longer tail, which helps it maintain its balance on the rugged terrain and unstable surfaces of its habitat. The Snow Leopard's tail also doubles as a warmth cover and is used to cover its nose and mouth in very cold conditions. The male's head is usually much squarer and wider than that of the female. Its big furry feet act as snowshoes[5], like those of the lynxes. In summer, the Snow Leopard usually lives above the tree line on mountainous meadows and in rocky regions at an altitude of up to 6000 m. In winter, it comes down into the forests at an altitude of about 2000 m. It leads largely a solitary life, although mothers can rear cubs for extended periods of time in cave dens in the mountains.

The Snow Leopard has grey-and-white fur with numerous rosettes on the flanks and spots on the head and neck, similar to the Jaguar. Its tail is striped and can reach up to 90 cm long. It is an opportunistic feeder, eating whatever meat it can find; it often kills animals three times its size, including domestic livestock.[6] It ambushes prey from above when possible, as it can jump as far as 14 meters (46 feet).[7] Its agility often proves helpful when ambushing prey and traversing through mountains. Its diet consists of ibexes, the Bharal,[6] the Markhor, the Urial, boars, as well as marmots and other small rodents.

[edit] Habitat, population, and home range
The Snow Leopard's range in central and south Asia is rugged mountainous regions of approximately 1,230,000 square kilometers, which extends through 12 countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, Tibet, India, Kazakhstan, the Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

The total estimated wild population of the Snow Leopard is between 4,000 and 7,500 individuals (see table below). In addition, there are 600-700 animals in zoos around the world.[8]

Range Country Habitat Area
(sq. km.) Estimated
Afghanistan 50,000
Bhutan 15,000 100-200
China 1,100,000 2,000-5,000
India 75,000 200-600
Kazakhstan 50,000 100-200
Kyrgyz Republic 105,000 150-500
Mongolia 101,000 500-1000
Nepal 30,000 300-500
Pakistan 80,000 200-420
Russia N/A N/A
Tajikistan 100,000 180-220
Uzbekistan 10,000 20-50

An individual Snow Leopard lives within a well defined home range. However, it does not defend its range aggressively when encroached upon by other individuals. Home ranges can vary greatly in size. In Nepal, where prey is abundant, a home range can be as small as 30-65 km²; whereas, in Mongolia, with sparse prey, the Snow Leopard needs over 1,000 km² to survive.[8]

[edit] Conservation

Snow leopard in the San Diego ZooThe Snow Leopard is an endangered species whose pelts command a very high price in the fur market.[2] During the 1960s, the Snow Leopard's total population went down to 1,000 animals, but has since recovered slightly.[citation needed]

Protected Areas:

Chitral Gol National Park, in the Northern Areas, Pakistan.
Hemis National Park, in east Ladakh, India.
Khunjerab National Park, Northern Areas, Pakistan.
Nanda Devi National Park, in state of Uttarakhand, India, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.[9]
Qomolangma National Nature Preserve, Tibet, China.[10]
Sagarmatha National Park, Nepal, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.[11]
Tumor Feng Nature Reserve, western Tianshan Mountains, Xinjiang, China.[12]
Valley of Flowers National Park, Uttaranchal, India, a UNESCO Natural World Heritage Site.
Shey-Phoksundo National Park, Dolpa, Nepal.
Dhorpatan Hunting Reserve,Baglung, Nepal.
Annapurna Conservation Area, Western Nepal.
Jigme Dorji National Park, Bhutan
Gobi Gurvansaikhan National Park, Mongolia
Much progress has been made in securing the survival of the Snow Leopard, with Snow Leopards being successfully bred in captivity. The animals usually give birth to 2 to 3 cubs in a litter, but can give birth to up to 7 in some cases.

[edit] Snow Leopard in heraldry

Aq Bars is the coat of arms of Tatarstan. It is an ancient Turkic and Bolgar symbol translated as "white leopard" or "snow leopard"
Snow leopard as a symbol of Almaty, Kazakhstan‎

The Snow Leopard (almost invariably known in heraldry as the Ounce) (Aq Bars) is a national symbol for Tatars and Kazakhs: a Snow Leopard is found on the official seal of the city of Almaty, and a winged Snow Leopard is found on Tatarstan's coat of arms. A similar leopard is featured at the coat of arms of North Ossetia-Alania. The Snow Leopard award was given to Soviet mountaineers who scaled all five of the Soviet Union's 7000m peaks. In addition, the Snow Leopard is the symbol of the Girl Scout Association of Kyrgyzstan.

[edit] References
^ a b Wozencraft, W. C. (16 November 2005). in Wilson, D. E., and Reeder, D. M. (eds): Mammal Species of the World, 3rd edition, Johns Hopkins University Press, 548. ISBN 0-801-88221-4.
^ a b Cat Specialist Group (2002). Uncia uncia. 2006 IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. IUCN 2006. Retrieved on 11 May 2006.
^ a b Johnson, W.E., Eizirik, E., Pecon-Slattery, J., Murphy, W.J., Antunes, A., Teeling, E. & O'Brien, S.J. 2006. The Late Miocene radiation of modern Felidae: A genetic assessment. Science 311: 73-77; access date = September 26, 2006
ieved on 2007-05-05.
^ a b Prey. Snow Leopard Trust (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-05.
^ Animal Bytes: Snow Leopard. San Diego Zoo (2007). Retrieved on 2007-05-05.
^ a b Habitat and Range. Snow Leopard Trust (2006). Retrieved on 2006-11-27.
^ UNESCO World Heritage Centre Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Parks. Brief Description. Retrieved 27 November 2006.
^ Snow Leopard Conservancy. 2006. Training park managers in the conservation of snow leopards. Retrieved 27 November 2006.
^ UNESCO World Heritage Center. Sagarmatha National Park: Brief Description. Retrieved 27 November 2006.
^ Snow Leopard Network. 2005. Camera Trapping of Snow Leopards in the Muzat Valley. Retrieved 27 November 2006.


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