Here are two videos which show snow leopards falling hundreds of feet, rolling down rock faces, hammering into rocks on the way and at the end of it getting up and walking away. In one video the snow leopard has his jaws into a blue sheep, a large prey animal. The snow leopard never let’s go despite falling huge distances and then tumbling down steep, snowy and rocky escarpments.
In the other video there’s no snow but a very steep, pretty well vertical, rock face which the snow leopard tries to negotiate, and he slips and falls what must be between 200 and 300 feet. On the way down he thumps into the rock face. It’s awful. This fall would kill a human with certainty I feel but once again, the snow leopard gets up and walks away. Another extraordinary demonstration of the ability of this courageous cat to survive in its environment.
We don’t know how badly injured these snow leopards were. I don’t think we can presume that they walked away unscathed. That seems impossible to me. There’s going to be some sort of injury but how severe? And when does the injury manifest itself in their behaviour and lifespan? Those are the big questions.
Note: These are embedded videos from YouTube. Sometimes they are deleted at source, or a video is turned into a link which would stop it working here. I have no control over this.
We don’t know whether, later on, both the snow leopards lost their mobility and in doing so lost their ability to hunt prey. Perhaps they got away with it. It just shows you how determined and how amazing these animals are.
The books I have on the snow leopard don’t really touch on the incredibly dangerous activities of these cats. Of course, they are very skilled at negotiating steep, icy and rocky slopes. And I am sure that they rarely fall but they do sometimes and long distances.
They often attack prey from above to gain an advantage from their initial downhill momentum. And in doing so, the prey animal, in running away, might slip and fall which is exactly what happened in one of these videos.
Normally, when the prey animal slips and falls this gives the snow leopard an advantage to finish off the prey animal with a bite to the throat or nape of the neck. The throat bite will be a suffocating bite in line with the other big cats killing large prey animals.
We don’t know how many snow leopards are killed during attacks on prey animals. Judging by the video where the snow leopard attacks a blue sheep it would appear that there must be a noticeable number of snow leopard that are injured or killed in falls of this nature. An injury probably leads to a slow death from starvation.
Snow leopards frequently hunt in what could be described as precipitous terrain exposing them to real dangers despite their superb climbing skills.
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