Ghost cat

Christopher RobinOur Town Arts

In April I traveled to Northern India to search for and photograph the rare and elusive snow leopard. Often called the “Ghost Cat of the Mountains,” they live in the high altitude of the Himalayas from Mongolia in the east to Pakistan in the west. Estimates are only 3,500 to 7,000 cats remain in the wild.

The home territory of this magnificent cat can be as much as 200 square miles, making locating them a challenge. They live at altitudes from 9,800 to as high as 18,000 feet in some of the world’s coldest and harshest climates. Leopard fur has 2,600 hairs per square inch to insulate it from the cold. A tail, almost as long as his body, provides balance on the steep cliffs and is often used as a warming wrap when sleeping.

The preferred diet for snow leopards is large mammals such as Ibex and Blue Sheep. They will kill about once a week guarding and consuming its meal over several days. This cat was resting with its head on its prey, a Yak calf taken the day before. It was a warm day so he would move to the shade quickly moving back to its food when the magpies got too close.

At about 175 to 200 yards away, my images were shot with an 840mm lens and then further cropped. Our guide said this was the closest encounter he had ever had. A village lady came by and it appeared she had either never seen a leopard or it was the first time she had looked through binoculars.

It was a privilege to make this lifetime trip and see two of these rare animals. More on the trip itself and the second cat we found in an upcoming article.

First Friday Art Walk in downtown Knoxville is this week. Robin and I will be in our studio until 9 p.m. Please stop in and introduce yourself and see what we have been creating.

Photographer Chris and painter Robin Rohwer each week share a painting or photograph that captured their interest in hopes that it will also capture yours. They have a small studio and gallery in the Phoenix Building at 418 South Gay Street where you can stop and see their work. Their website is All works are copyright protected.


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