Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)
Snow leopard in Afghanistan by USAID Afghanistan [CC BY-SA 2.0] via Wikimedia Commons
2017 Status update: Endangered to Vulnerable

Panthera Lineage

1. Tiger (Panthera tigris)

2. Lion (Panthera leo)

3. Jaguar (Panthera onca)

4. Leopard (Panthera pardus)

5. Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia)

6. Clouded Leopard (Neofelis nebulosa)

7. Sunda Clouded Leopard (Neofelis diardi)

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In scientific classification (taxonomy) Snow Leopards (Panthera uncia) belong to the big cat genus Panthera within the subfamily Pantherinae of the Felidae cat family.

Kingdom: Animalia (animals)

Phylum: Chordata (vertebrates)

Class: Mammalia (mammals)

Order: Carnivora (carnivores)

Suborder: Feliformia (cat-like)

Family: Felidae (cats)

Subfamily: Pantherinae (big cats)

Genus: Panthera (big cats)

Species: Panthera uncia (Snow Leopard)

Subspecies (to be confirmed):

P.u. irbis

P.u. uncia

P.u. uncioides

Note: The scientific name for the Snow Leopard species, Panthera uncia, is also known as the binomial name, species name, latin name, biological name and zoological name. Some use the term 'botanical name' however that is only applicable to the plant kingdom (botany) and not the animal kingdom (zoology).

Tiger Sticker
Lion Sticker
Jaguar Sticker
Snow Leopard Sticker
Snow Leopard

Classification Chart

This Snow Leopard classification chart shows where the Snow Leopard fits into the Felidae family and in particular the Panthera genus.

Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) Classification Chart
Click chart to download.
Permission to use for personal or educational use.

Subspecies (Lower Classifications)

Snow Leopards are usually described as a monotypic species (no subspecies) although some subspecies of Snow Leopard (previously Uncia uncia) have been proposed in the past:

  • Uncia uncia uncia - Mongolia and Russia
  • Uncia uncia uncioides - Western China and Himalayas

The last Felidae taxonomy revision in 2017 continued to recognize the Snow Leopard as a monotypic species pending further genetic studies.

Subspecies Papers Since 2017

May 2017: Janecka et al. (2017) recognize three Snow Leopard subspecies based on a comprehensive genetic assessment:

  • Panthera uncia irbis (Northern group)
  • Panthera uncia uncia (Western group)
  • Panthera uncia uncioides (Central group)
Jan E. Janecka et al. Range-Wide Snow Leopard Phylogeography Supports Three Subspecies. Journal of Heredity, published online May 4, 2017; doi: 10.1093/jhered/esx044



The beautiful smokey grey Snow Leopard occurs in the high snowy mountains of Central Asia. Known as the 'ghost of the mountains' this elusive wild cat is difficult to study in its rugged terrain, and numbers are estimated between 4000 and 6500.

In 2017 the global conservation status of Snow Leopards was changed from Endangered to Vulnerable, primarily as estimates exceeded the Endangered threshold of 2500 mature adults. The populations appear to have stabilized yet there are still many threats across its vast range.

The following organizations are all fighting to conserve our mysterious Snow Leopards, increasingly threatened due to loss of prey base, persecution and illegal trade:

Snow Leopard Trust

Snow Leopard Conservancy

Snow Leopard Program - Panthera

Please support these organizations with their important work if you can. No matter the size of your contribution, every bit helps!

Snow leopard (Panthera uncia) walking through snow

Key Facts about Snow Leopards

~ One of the longest tails of all cats ~

~ Grey to green eyes ~

~ Inhabits snowy mountains ~

Facts and Information

The Snow Leopard has one of the longest tails of all cats, used for balance when hunting and wrapped around the cat for warmth when sleeping. They have an unusual eye color of grey to green compared to most wild cats that have yellow to gold eyes.

The following websites have well researched and authoritative information on Snow Leopards:


Big Cat Documentary:

Preview The Secret Lives of Big Cats filmed using high tech starlight and thermal imaging night cameras to capture previously unrecorded behavior. The series includes seven episodes on the secret lives of Lions, Tigers, Jaguars, Leopards, Snow Leopards, Pumas and Cheetahs. Produced by CuriosityStream.

Snow Leopard Tours Asia

The following organizations offer tours to places in Asia where you are likely to see Snow Leopards in their natural habitat. These companies offer small group experiences, support conservation projects, and indicate their trips are environmentally and ethically responsible:

Volunteer Trips

Always bear in mind that sightings of any particular animal in its natural environment are not guaranteed and the experience of guides will greatly enhance your success.


More Wild Cat Trips

Snow Leopard Expedition

Snow Leopard Art Prints by Barbara Keith

These stunning images are now available on various product items such as Jigsaw Puzzles, T-shirts and Phone Cases.

If the product item is not listed just contact Barbara and she can add it for you.

Images copyright Barbara Keith.

Snow Leopard Art Print by Barbara Keith
Snow Leopard and Ghost by Barbara Keith
Up Close Snow Leopard by Barbara Keith Art Print
Up Close Snow Leopard by Barbara Keith
Snow Leopard Art - Dazzler by Barbara Keith
Dazzler by Barbara Keith