This incredible footage of one of the world's most elusive cats was captured by a camera trap in the Altai-Sayan Mountains on the border of Russia and Mongolia.


The snow leopard (Panthera uncia) gets near enough to almost brush the camera with its fur – and seeing the feline up close, even for a few seconds, is a rare treat. Thanks to its legendary camouflage skills, stealthiness and solitary nature, spotting one in the wild is no easy task.

And speaking of fur, that thick coat and fluffy tail are just one of the many ways snow leopards are adapted to their rugged, mountainous habitats.

Sadly, these beautiful cats are in trouble, with only a few thousand remaining in the wild. Habitat loss and hunting have diminished their populations, and the species is now listed as endangered.

Tracking the nomadic cats as they move in and out of their home ranges is important for scientists and conservationists who are working to protect them – and camera traps like this one have become instrumental tools for accomplishing that task. 

Spot the snow leopard-2015-8-30


Top header image: Roger Smith, Flickr