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Mother and cub are perfectly camouflaged against Himalayan mountain

Blending into the background, a pair of agile snow leopards are almost impossible to spot as they climb across the Himalayas.

The mother and cub’s spotted fur camouflages them against the rocky terrain at 14,763ft.

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Nature photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee, 43, from Kolkata, India, watched as the leopards sat together on the mountain for around 12 hours during the day, before becoming active and climbing around the rocks.

A pair of snow leopards are almost impossible to spot as they blend into the background climbing across the Himalayas. The mother and cub’s spotted fur camouflages them against the rocky terrain at 14,763ft

Can you spot the hiding leopard? This roving, high altitude cat is rarely sighted because it is so elusive, according to WWF. The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas

Can you spot the hiding leopard? This roving, high altitude cat is rarely sighted because it is so elusive, according to WWF. The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas

Nature photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee, 43, from Kolkata, India, watched as the leopards sat together on the mountain for around 12 hours during the day, before becoming active and climbing around the rocks

Nature photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee, 43, from Kolkata, India, watched as the leopards sat together on the mountain for around 12 hours during the day, before becoming active and climbing around the rocks

He said: ‘I have been interested in snow leopards in the high Himalayas for a long time.

‘This encounter was very interesting. I got the mother and cub in Hemis national park in Ladakh, India, when the temperature range was between minus three and minus 30 degrees Celsius.

‘I was following the mother and her cub for an entire day and was amazed by their smart approach to tackling the terrain and that rugged environment.

The photographer said: 'This encounter was very interesting. I got the mother and cub in Hemis national park in Ladakh, India, when the temperature range was between minus three and minus 30 degrees Celsius'

The photographer said: ‘This encounter was very interesting. I got the mother and cub in Hemis national park in Ladakh, India, when the temperature range was between minus three and minus 30 degrees Celsius’

Snow leopards are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg, according to WWF. Their exquisite, smoky-grey fur is patterned with dark-grey to black rosettes which helps to camouflage them against rocky slopes - as you can see in the above photo

Snow leopards are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg, according to WWF. Their exquisite, smoky-grey fur is patterned with dark-grey to black rosettes which helps to camouflage them against rocky slopes – as you can see in the above photo

The snow leopard is a magnificent big cat, very elusive and a very smart creature, which has adapted to suit the extremely difficult high altitude Himalayan habitat for its survival

The snow leopard is a magnificent big cat, very elusive and a very smart creature, which has adapted to suit the extremely difficult high altitude Himalayan habitat for its survival

Look carefully, and you'll spot the mother snow leopard and her cute cub, blending into the background as they climb across the Himalayas. Their spotted fur works perfectly, as they search among the rocks for prey

Look carefully, and you’ll spot the mother snow leopard and her cute cub, blending into the background as they climb across the Himalayas. Their spotted fur works perfectly, as they search among the rocks for prey

‘I tried to capture the intelligence of the animal and how comfortably it blended into the terrain in my photographs.

‘The snow leopard is a magnificent big cat, very elusive and a very smart creature, which has adapted to suit the very difficult high altitude Himalayan habitat for its survival.

‘After sitting for 12 hours in the daytime, this pair began to move around, and I got to witness some fantastic moments.

‘It was a nice opportunity to show them in their beautiful, vast and rugged environment and we can see how comfortably they merged into the terrain.

‘I was very fortunate to witness the emotional interaction of a mother and a cub.’

Snow leopards are usually found at elevations of 3,000-5,000 metres or higher in the Himalayas. The snow leopard is listed as Endangered on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of the Threatened Species

Snow leopards are usually found at elevations of 3,000-5,000 metres or higher in the Himalayas. The snow leopard is listed as Endangered on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of the Threatened Species

Snow leopards prefer steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides good cover and clear view to help them sneak up on their prey

Snow leopards prefer steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides good cover and clear view to help them sneak up on their prey

Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of central and southern Asia. In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas

Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of central and southern Asia. In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas

'I was following the mother and her cub for an entire day and was amazed by their smart approach to tackling the terrain and that rugged environment,' said photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee, who was rewarded for his patience with this series of stunning photographs

‘I was following the mother and her cub for an entire day and was amazed by their smart approach to tackling the terrain and that rugged environment,’ said photographer Dhritiman Mukherjee, who was rewarded for his patience with this series of stunning photographs

HOW RARE ARE SNOW LEOPARDS?

This roving, high altitude cat is rarely sighted and because it is so elusive, accurate population numbers are hard to come by, although estimates range from 450 to 500 individuals for India.

The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas.

It has developed a centrally-supported programme called Project Snow Leopard for the conservation of the species and its habitats.

Snow leopards are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg. 

Their exquisite, smoky-grey fur is patterned with dark-grey to black rosettes which helps to camouflage them against rocky slopes. 

The species usually mates between January and March, a time when both sexes mark their territories intensively leaving signs such as scrapes, faeces, urine and scent-spray in prominent locations along their travel routes. 

The animal is most active at dawn and dusk. Like most species of cats, snow leopards are solitary animals, though sometimes male and female pairs might be seen together during mating season.

Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of central and southern Asia. In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.

They prefer steep, rugged terrains with rocky outcrops and ravines. This type of habitat provides good cover and clear view to help them sneak up on their prey.

Source: WWF 



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