Wednesday, December 6, 2017

Snow leopard spots aren’t just pretty – they’re the perfect camouflage for the rocky Himalayan terrain, something that photographer Inger Vandyke learned firsthand while tracking snow leopards in Ladakh, India.

Vandyke, the general manager of Wild Images UK, spent more than two weeks in February following and documenting elusive snow leopards, camping out in locations where the temperature routinely dipped to -13 degrees Fahrenheit. But her persistence paid off, particularly when she got to witness a lone male snow leopard stalk a herd of blue sheep on a rocky slope.

Can you spot the snow leopard in the photo below?

If you need a hint, he’s near the center of the photo. But if you still can’t find him, here he is circled below:

As you can see, his spots made him nearly invisible. “When I look at this image,” Vandyke says, “I often find myself wondering how many leopards we must have walked past in the field and never actually saw.”

“They truly are masters of camouflage. Snow leopards, by their very nature, are ambush hunters and this image really encapsulates how well they can hide while they wait for prey to come their way,” she added.

Unfortunately for this leopard, however, his would-be prey noticed him just as he jumped out to attack. Vandyke says, “Despite how well they manage to blend themselves in, eight out of 10 snow leopard hunts will end in failure, simply because the Himalayas is a very difficult terrain to live in.”

This particular leopard was also already injured, Vandyke said, from “engaging in rough intercourse with a dominant female.” The right side of his face was visibly swollen, which could have affected his vision. Hopefully, his next hunt was more successful.

Vandyke said she was “very, very lucky” to catch the snow leopard in action. “I honestly had zero expectations of actually seeing any snow leopards, let alone one that was hunting.”

Source: The Daily Mail

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