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Past "Animals of the Month" March 09, 2005 12:27 PM

January/ Febuary's Animal: Snow Leopard Uncia uncia STATUS: BODY LENGTH (mm): 900-1350 WEIGHT (kg): 50 average LITTER SIZE: 2-3 LIFE SPAN: 15-18 Kingdom: Animalia Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Carnivora Family: Felidae Genus: Uncia Species: uncia Although sharing itís name with the Common Leopard, the Snow Leopard is not believed to be closely related the the Leopard. Due to tissue in the vocal apparatus, the Snow Leopard cannot give a full, deep roar, allowing it to be separated from the big cats. The Snow Leopard can leap thirty-feet, Take prey three times its weight, so stealthy, they are almost never seen. PHYSICAL FEATURES: -White to smokey-gray fur, tinged with yellow; patterned with dark-gray to black rosettes and spots. -Long body hair; dense wooly belly fur (up to 12 cm. In length) -Short fore limbs; long hind limbs increase agility in the steep and rugged habitat it occupies. -Large paw; ideal for walking on snow -A long, thick, furry tail almost a meter in length; used as an aid in balancing, also used to keep warm. -Well- developed chest and nasal cavity; adaptations to the cold and thin air of itís high altitude habitat. HABITAT: Snow Leopards live in the mountainous areas of Central Asia in the countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan. Although, they have seemed to already disappear from some areas in this range. This is a very harsh, remote habitat, including steep, broken mountainous regions (elevation 3000-5400 meters in the Himalaya; 900-3000 in Mongolia and Russia) in alpine and sub-alpine zones where vegetation is sparse. Snow Leopards show a strong preference for cliffy habitat with moderately to very broken terrain, rocky outcrops and ravines, as opposed to open smooth slopes and densely forested areas. BEHAVIOR AND BREEDING: The Snow Leopard is most active at dawn and dusk. Mating occurs between January and mid-march, a period of intensified markin and vocalization. Estrus lasts 2- 12 days. Gestation period is 90-103 days. Cubs are born in late spring or early summer. Litter size is usually 2-3; very rarely up to 7. The first several days of a cubís life may be spent restricted to inaccessible and hidden den sites. Cubs become independent of their mothers at 18-22 months of age, becoming sexually mature at 2-3 years. PREY: A snow leopard is able to kill prey three times its weight; the two most common large prey are: ∑ Blue sheep or bharal (Pseudois nayaur) of the Himalaya and Tibet ∑ Asiatic ibex (Capra ibex), a wild goat found throughout the major mountain ranges of central Asia Snow leopards kill a large animal twice monthly on average. Small prey include marmot, pika, hares, other small rodents, and game birds like the Tibetan snowcock and chukor partridge. Snow leopards will take livestock (such as sheep, goats, horses, or young yaks) when their natural prey becomes unavailable due to competition with livestock, hunting/poaching, or other causes. These cats eat slowly and remain on the kill for several days, protecting it from scavengers such as vultures or ravens until all meat is consumed. In some areas, notable amounts of plant material are consumed, particularly during mating season perhaps to meet specific nutritional needs. POPULATION ∑ An estimated 3,500-7,000 left in the wild ∑ Approximately 600-700 in zoos around the world ∑ Listed on the World Conservation Unionís (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as Endangered, the same classification as the panda and the tiger Protected by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITE, which makes trafficking live cats, fur, or body parts illegal in signatory countries THREATS: Lifespan of the snow leopard is estimated at 10-12 years in the wild. Along with natural dangers the snow leopard faces serious threats brought on by humans: ∑ Poaching Ė hunting and the sale of snow leopard pelts, bones, and body parts for the fur trade and for use in traditional Asian medicine ∑ Loss of prey Ė depletion of the natural prey base due to competition with livestock and from humans hunting wild mountain sheep and goats for trophies and food ∑ Retaliatory killing and conflict with herders. Due to reductions in natural prey, snow leopards resort to killing livestock; herders retaliate by trapping, poisoning, or shooting them (rapidly becoming one of the most important conservation issues related to large predators) ∑ Degradation, loss, and fragmentation of habitat occurs when humans push ever further into mountainous areas, particularly to graze livestock ∑ Lack of awareness Ė the livelihood of local people depends on their livestock, which can make them reluctant to support the conservation of large predators like the snow leopard; park management and law enforcement is weak; protected areas often lack trained personnel or are so poorly funded that poaching by staff is becoming common.  [ send green star]
Giraffe August 02, 2005 5:35 PM

(Giraffa camelopardalis)

ORDER: Artiodactyla
FAMILY: Giraffidae
GENUS : Giraffa
SPECIES: camelopardalis reticulata

Extreme height provides giraffes with an excellent range of vision. Females may be 14-15 feet tall and males 15-17 feet. Giraffes range in weight from 1210-3960 pounds. They have excellent vision, hearing and sense of smell. The long neck contains seven vertebrae (the same number as most mammals, including humans). There is a series of valves that regulates blood flow to the head. The color pattern varies among the five subspecies, but is essentially dark reddish to chestnut brown blotches of various shapes and sizes on a buff ground color. The underparts are light and unspotted.
At first glance, giraffes seem ungainly. They are actually not only graceful, but fast and may gallop at 35 mph. Their more characteristic gait is the pace, where both legs on one side move simultaneously as they majestically roam the dry savannahs and open woodlands. To defend themselves, they kick with their forefeet and may use the head to give blows. Rival males fight by swinging their necks and striking with their heads from the side. Giraffes are usually seen alone or in small, loosely organized groups of 2-10. Females with young will sometimes aggregate and one to two adults may remain with all of the calves while the rest go off to feed.
Calves are born after a fifteen month gestation period. The number of young is usually one, but some twins do occur. A calf is six feet tall at birth and is able to stand after about twenty minutes. Females attain full size by the age of five, and males by the age of seven.
Giraffes have horns unlike any other mammal. They are present at birth as cartilaginous knobs which rapidly ossify. They grow slowly throughout life and are covered with skin and hair. Hair may become worn away from the apex of the horn."
A great link for giraffe-† :
Giraffes are superbly adapted to exploit a food source that is out of reach for other hooved animals. They feed almost entirely on leaves of acacia, mimosa, and wild apricot trees. The 18-inch tongue is wrapped around a branch and as the head is pulled away, leaves are stripped off. To reach the ground a giraffe must spread its forelegs widely and well to the front or bend at the knees. They are vulnerable to lion predation when lying down, ground feeding or drinking. Giraffes usually sleep standing up but do lie down occasionally.
 [ send green star]
 February 20, 2006 2:40 PM

†††† Kaylin you really do great work and informative posting.

†† My apoligies for not being here more often to enjoy them and post.

 [ send green star]  [ accepted]
... February 21, 2006 1:15 PM

That's ok. I haven't been around much myself! I've been pretty busy.

 [ send green star]
Favorite animal? March 02, 2006 8:58 AM

Wow, I am really impressed with all the great information you have here! It is a real treasure-trove of information!† Where do you get all this info from? (I am not doubting it, I am just curious where these great resources are...)

I figured you all would be interested in this since many of the past animals of the month here are listed in this tournament, but WWF is hosting a "your favorite animal" tournament on their site, and I would love to know which ones you would vote for.† (You can only do one a day, and today is lion vs. otter - I voted for the otter...)

Thanks again, this is great stuff here!† (and I love snow leopards! that was fascinating!)
 [ send green star]  [ accepted]
 March 04, 2006 11:45 AM

How funny! As it turns out - snow leopard is the animal up for voting today on that favorite animal thing I mentioned! Well I know who I am voting for!  [ send green star]  [ accepted]
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