These “world's coolest cats” inhabit some of the most uninhabitable country in the world. They are recognized as the mammalian predator highest in elevation, its stomping grounds among the Seven Great Ramparts of central Asia, Altai, Pamir, Tein Shan, Kun Lun, Hindu Kush, Karakorum, and the mighty Himalaya.
Because of this, the snow leopard is the least studied endangered species, more than any other--bald eagles, polar bears, lion, tiger, and panda. It takes a dedicated adventurer to try and track these ghosts of the misting snow over rocky mountain sides where a misstep means, at best a broken leg with hundreds of miles to the next hospital and at worst a lonely death from a fall. If the high, forbidding landscape isn’t enough to keep out the heartiest explorer, then the treacherous travel and ageless border disputes between the countries that claim parts of the snow leopards kingdom will dampen enthusiasm.
One would think that these natural and man made barriers would serve to protect this cat with no roar--the snow leopard is the only big cat that has no roar--but the snow leopard is threatened by an ever-growing human presence as sheep herders move higher into the mountains to graze their sheep; the snow leopard loves sheep, the blue sheep or naur being it’s favorite prey. The snow leopard is also still hunted for its bones and its magnificent fur. Its also killed in retaliation for its raid on domestic herds. Climate change is also a factor as warming in the mountains pushes the cat and its prey to higher elevations, leaving the snow leopard with no options for retreat or alternative refuge. Beyond the mountains lies extinction.
The people who contributed to this book with there narratives, stories, and excerpts of other scholarly works are an intrepid a group as you’d ever hope to encounter. Among them is George Schaller and Peter Matthiessen who had completed an earlier work The Snow Leopard. Noted experts on snow leopards, Rodney Jackson and Tom McCarthy also contributed as did many others from many continents with tales of exploring the roof of the world in search of this majestic big cat. They bring us many tales with the warmth of nonscientific prose as well as stories with a feeling of myth and legend, almost as communiqués or prayers to the big mountains.
Hardcover: 216 pages Publisher: University Press of Colorado (August 13, 2012)
Language: English ISBN-10: 1607321939 ISBN-13: 978-1607321934