When snow leopards hide, they do it very well (go ahead, just try to spot this guy). That's the lesson one group of skiers learned recently when a stowaway in the snow stopped them in their tracks on a mountainside in India. 

The skiers were winding their way down a tree-lined slope in Gulmarg, Kashmir when one of the cats surfaced from its snowy hiding place right in their path. 

The camouflage skills and stealthiness of the snow leopard are legendary (there's a reason the cats are known as the "ghosts of the mountains" in some parts of the world), and they're essential for survival in a barren, mountainous habitat that offers few dining options.  

The brief encounter was captured on camera and posted to Facebook by Owen Lansbury, who described it as "just a regular getting chased by wild leopards kinda day."

While a surprise meeting with such an elusive predator was undoubtedly a memorable experience for the group, the team at the Snow Leopard Trust says the incident highlights the need for human visitors to exercise caution to avoid disturbing wildlife.  

"Their reaction to the situation is quite considerate, but this remains an encounter that's much too close, and almost certainly caused the cat some distress," they note in a Facebook update.

Listed as endangered by the IUCN, snow leopards (Panthera uncia) face a growing number of threats, including habitat loss, and only a few thousand now remain in the wild.

"Tourism is an important economic driver in parts of snow leopard habitat, and it can be beneficial when it's managed sustainably. [But] more than anything else, [this video] should serve as a reminder to all of us to leave wildlife the space it needs in order to thrive," the trust adds.

To find out how you can help snow leopards in the wild, head on over to the Snow Leopard Trust website.

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Top header image: Mark Dumont, Flickr