Wednesday, May 11, 2011

Snow Leopard

The Estonia Post has issued the stamp series of zoo animal. On the year 1999, the series of zoo animal stamp issued that featured the Snow leopard or Uncia uncia . Only one single stamp and one First Day Cover issued.
The snow leopard (Uncia uncia or Panthera uncia) is a moderately large cat native to the mountain ranges of South Asia and Central Asia. The snow leopard's habitat in central and south Asia is rugged mountainous regions of approximately 1,230,000 square kilometres (470,000 sq mi), which extends through twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.

Snow leopards are smaller than the other big cats , exhibit a range of sizes, generally weighing between 27 and 55 kilograms .Body length ranges from 75 to 130 centimetres , with the tail adding an additional 75 to 90 percent of that length.The snow leopard has a short muzzle and domed forehead, containing unusual large nasal cavities that help the animal breathe the thin, cold air of their mountainous environment.
Snow leopards have long thick fur, and their base colour varies from smoky grey to yellowish tan, with whitish underparts. They have dark grey to black open rosettes on their body with small spots of the same colour on their heads and larger spots on their legs and tail. Unusually among cats, their eyes are pale green or grey in colour.
Snow leopards show several adaptations for living in a cold mountainous environment. Their bodies are stocky, their fur is thick, and their ears are small and rounded, all of which help to minimize heat loss. Their paws are wide, which distributes their weight better for walking on snow, and have fur on their undersides to increase their grip on steep and unstable surfaces; it also helps to minimize heat loss. Snow leopards' tails are long and flexible, helping them to maintain their balance, which is very important in the rocky terrain they inhabit. Their tails are also very thick due to storage of fats and are very thickly covered with fur which allows them to be used like a blanket to protect their faces when asleep.
Snow leopards live between 3,000 and 5,500 metres (9,800 and 18,000 ft) above sea level in the rocky mountain ranges of Central Asia. Their secretive nature means that their exact numbers are unknown, but it has been estimated that between 3,500 and 7,000 snow leopards exist in the wild and between 600 and 700 in zoos worldwide.
During summer months the species ranges on the edge of perpetual snows at an altitude of about 4 km, but it has occasionally been met even higher than 5 km. For the winter it moves a couple of kilometers downwards in the wake of its prey, mountain goats and mountain sheep.
Although protected in most of its range since several years ago, the species is still in serious straits. Under the guidance of Helsinki Zoo, successive attempts have been made at studying and breeding this spectacular cat in captivity.


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