Animal: Snow Leopard
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Why This Animal?

I chose the snow leopard because of many reasons. One of those reasons is that they are threatened and a lot of people dont know about them so i want to get the word out for them. I think that they are the most cool looking animal ever. They have looks that no other animal has. For instance, it's a pretty short cat but the tail is almost 3 feet long. I think that this animal has the cutiest little cubs in the world. They're really soft and the fur is worth a lot of money now because they are threatened.

Research Location

Alpine Biome

The alpine is home to many different kinds of animals, like the snow leopard. There are miles and miles of mountain ranges with snow capped tops. The temperatures range from 10-15 degrease celsius. The main location of this biome is in and around central Asia and the west coasts of North and South America. The Alpine is one of the coldest biomes in the world. Every night the temperatures drop to below freezing. Like the tundra, all year round the alpine is dry and cold. Alpine is located on mountains where trees can’t seem to grow. The Growing season for plants is around 180 days. The plants in the alpine mainly grow in the midsummer because of the harsh weather in the other seasons. The cool thing about the alpine is that in the mountains in certain places, there are water springs. The water is sort of a warm temperature but mostly the water source is small rivers or creeks. The alpine has great shelter for wildlife because of the many elevations on the land. Where the trees are a good use for the animals when either hiding from predators or just laying there for a home. Many animals like to burrow into the soft parts on the sides of the mountain because they can create very complicated tunnels.


Food Web






Wildlife Monitoring Technique

For this animal, catching it is extremely hard. So I thought that tagging the animal is completely out of the question. I couldn’t figure out a safe way for me to get a collar on it so I wouldn’t hurt the animal. So finally I decided to whip out the motion sensing cameras. This wasn’t the best way for me to observe it but it worked just fine. I had a live feed connected to my computer so I could check up on it anytime I wanted. I got a chance to see its sleep habits and what it does to stake out its prey. I had to disguise the camera so it wouldn’t be noticeable in their habitat. I used something like this.
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Observation Journal

Day 1

I have never left the country before. I am on my way across the world to China to study the animal i have always wanted to see. Yep, the snow leopard. I didn't really know what the climte was there until i researched it, I found out that i would need a coat and a lot of layers. The climate around the alpine mountain ranges is cold all year round. The reasons that the snow leopard can survive this climate and habitat are because they have a special fur that gets really thick and realy coarse which helps them keep their body temprature up to survive the cold. The snow leopard have a white-gray-yellow coat that halps them blend in very well so they are able to ambush their prey.They dont have major predators in their habitat besides humans so they don't need to hide very much. The snow leopards have a abnormal shaped face and a realy long tail. The shape of their face is more smashed in and round unlike the usual cat-like shape. The reason why they have this abnormaility is so they can see with peripheral vision better.Their tail is very long and thick because on thevery cold nights they can curl up and cover their face with their tail. Their masive paws really help them when they climb and run through the mountain ranges.

Day 2

I have observed these amazing animals for around 14 hours now. The way that they catch their prey is facinating. They dont like to chase. They like to watch and ambush. Their tactics are, spot their prey, wait till they're close, and then leap. They usually hunt animals such as, wild boar, gazelles, hares, markhor, bobak, tahr, marmots, mice and deer. The way the land is formed helps the snow leopard to hide and attack. The different elevations are easy for it to climb and wait and then jump from above. The have a lot of benifits from the snow because of their color, white, gray, and yellow, because they can blend in and pounce. The snow leopards usually have their main home near a river or a pond so they can get their water source and the food source when the other animals come to get a drink also.

Day 3

I have been here for a while now, and I have noticed the snow leopards behavior. The behavior that surprised me the most is that when it sleeps, it covers its eyes with their tail. When it sleeps they curl up into a ball and wrap their tail around their face. I think it might be so the cold doesn’t hit their face when the cold night wind comes. Another thing they do is they like to sleep in trees. Most of the time they sleep in dens and caves but I have noticed that some sleep in trees. When they hunt their prey, they usually stake out up in a tree and when the time is right, they pounce. Snow leopards don’t like to do the whole chasing thing so they just decide to ambush.

Day 4

The snow leopards don’t really get along with other animals I have noticed. They are usually solitary animals because they do their own thing and don’t want to wait up for others. Some smaller carnivores and some birds will benefit from the snow leopard because of its leftovers. After the snow leopard eats their dinner, they don’t dispose of it, they just leave it. So then the little carnivores come around and scavenge off of what is still there.


Fellow Researcher Profile

Shafqat Hussain is a man that was born in the lowlands of Pakistan. He was always fascinated by the mountains and always wanted to know what was up there. One day while he was in the village he lived in, a pack of snow leopards attacked their goats and sheep. The people of the village went as payback and killed the snow leopards they could find. By this time he was much older and was totally against the idea of killing the snow leopards. Hussain made Project Snow Leopard. It is a low budget insurance that each villager that lost an animal to a snow leopard would get some money for it. I feel that this is a good idea because the snow leopards are endangered and he didn’t want them to go extinct. I would help out this organization because I believe that the snow leopard should be saved from being illegally poached and sold. Even if they did harm livestock, that’s their natural prey.
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Shafqat Hussain holding a monkey


Using the Research

The snow leopard has a few limiting factors that effect them. One of the factors is the temperature if the habitat that they live in gets to warm, they could get too dehydrated because of the sweat and maybe eventually die. Another one of the factors are the other predators of their main diet could take all of their supply away and cause them to starve. People are a huge limiting factor hen it comes to the snow leopard. Many people in villages nearby their habitat illegally poach them and sell their meat and pelt for money. In the town where Hussain lived, the people of his village would go out and hunt the snow leopards as revenge for when they took out a whole pasture of sheep. When they hunted them, they just left the bodies as “warnings” to the others that they should stay away from their farms. Probably the main limiting factor is humans. If it wasn’t for us, they would probably be in good shape and not endangered. Many people, like Hussain, want to protect them as much as possible. People like them are trying to bring back the population to at least unthreatened, because they have many good roles in the wild, like keeping the population of small animals that may be a nuisance to other animals and people down by hunting and eating them. They also are a very different cat, with their long tail and distorted face, they are attracted by many people.


References


Snow Leopard." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 23 Feb. 2012. Web. 17 Jan. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Snow_leopard.

"Geography of China." Wikipedia. Wikimedia Foundation, 21 Feb. 2012. Web. 30 Jan. 2012. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geography_of_China.

"Snow Leopard Trust." Threats —. The Snow Leopard Trust. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. http://www.snowleopard.org/catfactsclassroom/catfacts/threats.

Snow Leopard Trust." Habitat and Range —. The Snow Leopard Trust. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. http://www.snowleopard.org/catfactsclassroom/catfacts/habitatandrange.

"Alpine Biome." Blue Planet Biomes. Blue Planets. Web. 23 Feb. 2012. http://www.blueplanetbiomes.org/tundra.htm.