Video Of The Week - Snow Leopard Falls From The Edge Of A Mountain, And Survives!

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Snow leopard at Cincinnati Zoo (Photo Credit: Greg Hume (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 via Wikimedia Commons

With their thick white-gray fur and black rings, snow leopards are often hard to see against the rugged mountains that they call home. However, a team of photographers that included Mike Birkhead, has managed to capture amazing footage of this elusive cat walking away unscathed, after tumbling off a steep cliff.

The film, shot in an undisclosed location in June 2017, shows the wild cat pacing along the edge of a mountain, when it suddenly loses its footing and falls from what appears to be a great height. While most animals would have not survived the impact, the leopard did not appear to be hurt. Birkhead, who posted the video on his Facebook page, says, "No one had seen anything like it. We watched [the leopard] for another 20 minutes as it walked across a snow face and then disappeared into a cave."

The snow leopard range in the mountains of Central Asia (Image Credit: Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program)

Experts are not sure how often the agile cats miss their footing. Officials at the Snow Leopard Conservancy say, “The snow leopard is an elusive species, very hard to find, very hard to film. To our knowledge there are no recorded statistics about frequency of falls. However, logic would say that they probably do fall from time to time, given the ruggedness of the environment."

Native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia, snow leopards are solitary animals. The stealthy predators, which usually hunt at dawn and dusk, can kill animals up to three times their size and usually prey on herbivores like the bharal, or Himalayan blue sheep, Argali sheep and the Alpine ibex. Their short front limbs and longer hind ones allow the strong creatures to cover a distance of up to 30 feet (10-meters) in a single leap, while their long tail helps them balance in the rough, steep terrain.

Can you find the perfectly camouflaged snow leopard amidst the rocks? (Photo Credit: Snow Leopard Trust)

The magnificent animals, which have been on the endangered species list since 1972 were recently upgraded to the slightly better vulnerable status, by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). However, Dr. Tom McCarthy, one of five experts who helped the organization decide on the change, says “[that] does not mean that snow leopards are 'safe' or that now is a time to celebrate. The species still faces 'a high risk of extinction in the wild', and is likely still declining - just not at the rate previously thought."

Resources: earthtouchnews.com,worldwildlife.org,facebook.com

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agileduskelusiveendangeredextinctionfrequencyherbivoresmagnificentpacingpreyruggednesssolitarystatisticsstealthyterrainunscathedvulnerable
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Reading Comprehension (9 questions)

  1. Why are snow leopards hard to see in the wild?
  2. What did a team of photographers recently capture on film?
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Critical Thinking Challenge

What would you name this leopard? Why?

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Vocabulary in Context

“Experts are not sure how often the agile cats miss their footing.”

In the above sentence, the word agile most likely refers to:

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2096 Comments
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  • BrinleySaturday, April 21, 2018 at 3:26 pm
    In the article, it says that people don't know how often snow leopards fall off cliffs, but I hope that it doesn't happen very often! I hope that the leopard din't hurt anything. Snow leopards are one of my favorite animals!
    • BrinleySaturday, April 21, 2018 at 3:16 pm
      I feel really bad for it! I was glad to see that it was OK. I love snow leopards!
      • NourSaturday, April 21, 2018 at 4:13 am
        What happened to him next .it must of hurt.Poor snow leopard.I wish it was me never him.
        • dirpyFriday, April 20, 2018 at 8:31 am
          that must of hurt
          • RubyFriday, April 20, 2018 at 7:38 am
            Omg
            • UmmThursday, April 19, 2018 at 1:05 pm
              So funny
              • SAVAGE45Wednesday, April 18, 2018 at 7:30 am
                glad it was not me
                • mariahbee32Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 4:00 pm
                  no not cute CAT not at all i cant believe you .
                  • mariahbee32Tuesday, April 17, 2018 at 3:57 pm
                    how is that cute cat wolf girl i mean yeah the snow leopard but why
                    • JuferakjnfraTuesday, April 17, 2018 at 8:55 am
                      I feel so bad

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