Wild snow leopard: First ever photos of rare big cat killing prey

AOL Travel
Caters News Agency
Caters News Agency

Can you spot the leopard in this photo? These amazing pics are believed to be the first ever taken of the ultra-rare snow leopard making a kill.

The images show the big cat, nicknamed the Grey Ghost of the Himalayas, as it stalks its blue sheep prey right until it drags its victim to be eaten. Words and photos: Caters.

Photographer Adam Riley captured the photos while leading a tour in India's largest national park, Hemis, in the north east of the country.

The lone cat starts by peering over its rocky bed at its prey below and continues to stalk them while three become cut off from the rest of the herd.

In a whirlwind of gravel and dust the leopard leaps from 50m from its hideout and chases the youngest up and then down a steep rock face before pouncing for the jugular.

Adam said: "To capture this moment was a mixture of intense exhilaration and tremendous relief!

"I have worked with big cats most of my career and having led the tours I know how elusive snow leopards can be.

"I have never managed to photograph a snow leopard before, let alone a kill, so it was really exciting for me personally.

"When people first saw the Snow Leopard the relief and joy was incredible; there were high fives, hugs and huge smiles!

"We use an extremely experienced team on our tours, but that doesn't guarantee anything and I felt enormous pressure to help locate this almost mythical creature."

Although snow leopards are classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, the Hemis National Park is home to between 50 and 60 of the animals.

They are hunted for their thick, grey fur pelts, which they use to protect themselves from the cold and heavy falls during hunting, which are used in local clothing.

Adam helps run INDRI Ultimate Wildlife Tours and has previously worked as a guide at Sir Richard Branson's wildlife property in South Africa.

He has great experience in the conservation of lions and jaguars in projects around Africa and Brazil.

He said: "I love these moments - looking for wildlife is like going to the greatest theatre on earth where you really have no idea what you might experience.

"Not only does it celebrate life but, more often than not, it is the best way of reflecting on life."

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