OUNCE, SNOW LEOPARD

This is a big squat cat with a thick long tail and thick fur. The animal has a mottle brown-grey color with large collar-shaped dark spots. The body length is 130 cm and the tail length is 90 cm. The weight of a male cat is about 40 kilos, the female species are lighter.

The common prey is mountain goat, less frequently roe deer or hares. The ounce is active mostly in twilight, sometimes in daytime. It hunts by prowling or ambushing its prey.

The animal is very rare in Russia. It is red-listed as an endangered species. The hunting for the ounce is strictly prohibited. The animal can rarely be found in Siberia. It populates only the wildest areas of the Sayans highlands, including the Sayano-Shushensky national reserve, headwater of the Abakan River, basins of Us and Kantegir Rivers (closer to Yenisey River). The ounce can also be found in highlands of the Easter Sayan, particularly on the mountain ranges Tunkinsky Goltsy and Munku-Sardyk.

The ounce lives in alpine meadows, gorges, cliffs and snowfields. It makes its lair in caves and rock-splits. The coupling period is in the end of winter. The offspring (2-4 cubs) appears in April-May. The animal rarely attacks a human – it sometimes happens when people protect their herd. There were no reports of an ounce attacking livestock in the Krasnoyarsk Territory, though in Tuva such cases are quite common.