Snow Leop­ard

Pan­thera un­cia

Popular Science - - FEATURES -

THIS SPOT­TED AND THICK-COATED CAT THRIVES IN A GOLDILOCKS ZONE BE­TWEEN 9,800 to 17,800 feet across the Ti­betan Plateau, a frigid, rocky re­gion that of­fers wild goats and sheep as prey. But ris­ing tem­per­a­tures are push­ing the zone higher, forc­ing leop­ards and their quarry up the slopes, frag­ment­ing their habi­tats into iso­lated sum­mits. Ris­ing temps also pull in com­pet­ing preda­tors like com­mon leop­ards, which pre­vi­ously avoided the chilly heights in fa­vor of forested hunt­ing grounds at lower el­e­va­tions. Hu­mans are mov­ing in as well to graze their do­mes­ti­cated goats and sheep, which some­times re­quires killing cats who get too cu­ri­ous about the flocks.

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