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Snow Leopard of Afghanistan Facts

A closer look at the Snow Leopard's face.  This type of leopard's fur is long and thick.

A closer look at the Snow Leopard's face. This type of leopard's fur is long and thick. (View larger version)

Photograph by Stuart Berman / Getty Images

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  • The adult snow leopard is about four to five feet long and weighs up to 120 pounds.

  • The large paws of the snow leopard are perfectly adapted to climbing through the rocky terrain that carpets the Wakhan Corridor of Afghanistan. The thick padding on the soles of their feet, combined with a dense, heavy coat help to keep the snow leopard warm.

  • Using the power of their long hind legs, snow leopards are able to leap up to 30 feet in a single bound when attacking their prey.

  • Snow leopards are equipped with a long fuzzy tail that can grow up to three feet long, which keeps them warm in the winter and helps them maintain their balance on crags and steep rugged ledges.

  • Snow leopards spend most of their lives alone. The only exception occurs between January and mid-March, when they find a mate for the breeding season. Following the mating season, the females will then raise the cubs on their own.

  • The snow leopard will prey on many larger animals such as sheep, wild boar, gazelles and deer, but they also possess the quickness to catch smaller animals such as hares, bobak, marmots and mice. They generally make a kill every 10 to 15 days.

  • Snow leopards live throughout 12 nations in Asia, spanning from Russia to Nepal. They are the apex predator in a region that includes some of the most breathtaking mountain ranges on earth, including the Himalaya, Karakoram and the Hindu Kush.

  • Although the IUCN placed the snow leopard on the endangered species list in 1972, the worldwide population is still in decline. Experts believe that there are only 3,000 to 7,500 left in existence.

  • One of the most serious threats to the snow leopard species is human poaching for the fur trade and traditional Chinese medicine, which uses the snow leopard's bones.

  • The Wakhan Corridor is a 130-mile long panhandle that extends from Afghanistan's northeastern Badakhshan province.

  • The political history of the Wakhan Corridor includes an agreement made in 1895 between Britain and Russia that designated the area as an Afghan-controlled no-man's-land between the two great empires.

  • The estimated 10,600 people who call the Wakhan Corridor their home have traditionally suffered from a host of social problems such as poverty, hunger, poor education, and opium addiction.

  • The Wakhan region has one of the highest infant mortality rates in the world, which contributes to an average life expectancy of just 35 years of age.

  • The Wildlife Conservation Society currently operates in more than 60 countries worldwide. Their New York parks alone educate over four million visitors per year on the many global issues that affect our wildlife.

  • Afghanistan opened its first national park on Earth Day 2009 with the Wildlife Conservation Society. It was a tremendous accomplishment given the three decades of conflict that have plagued the country.

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