This page on the social organisation of the snow leopard is divided into two sections:
- Home ranges
Social organisation of the snow leopard – Home Ranges
It is thought that snow leopards are solitary except when mating and when a female is parenting young. Radio tagging indicated that snow leopards remained between 1.3 and 7.8 kilometres apart depending on the sex of the animal.
Map above showing where the snow leopard lives.
Home ranges (the area in which a snow leopard lives) varies widely. When prey is abundant a cat can use a relatively small area of 19.7 square kilometres (female in Nepal).
While in Mongolia snow leopards have been found to occupy a massive home range of 1,590 square kilometres and travel as much as 28 kilometres a day. See Snow Leopard Habitat (new window) for details of where this cat lives.
As a consequence population densities can be as low as 0.5 per 100 square kilometres (in e.g. Russia and China) to hot spots of higher densities, 5-7 per 100 square kilometres (in e.g. Annapurna Conservation Area). Another area where there was a relatively high density of snow leopards was in Qinghai Province, China (see map below) – where, sadly, 14 were shot in 60 days! (src: Wild Cat of the World):
Social organisation of the snow leopard – Communication
Vocal: Snow leopards do not roar (see Tiger Roar) but make the usual range of cat sounds except apparently for purring (src: Wild Cats of the World). When on heat the female makes a “piercing yowl” and this is a call made by both sexes for locating each other, it is thought.
Non-vocal: scent marks using faeces and urine and scrapes are used. Scrape marks are used on main routes and areas where there is a feature. The routes are usually the easiest to follow.
Scrapes are renewed. Spraying is also commonplace and usually on rocks. These non-vocal forms of communication are designed to:
- tell each other were they are or have been to allow avoidance (prevent conflict)
- locate each other
- identify each other
- indicate occupation of an area
- indentify reproductive status
- and to time when a cat was there (by the age of the odour).