Test Your Eye: Spot the Elusive Snow Leopard Camouflaged in this Stunning Photo - Media News 48

Test Your Eye: Spot the Elusive Snow Leopard Camouflaged in this Stunning Photo

Inger Vandyke describes her experience photographing endangered snow leopards in northern India as being “almost spiritual.” Cats are masters of camouflage.

Few land animals are as adept at camouflage as the rare and elusive snow leopard, and with this in mind we challenge readers to see how quickly they can spot the large cat in the photo atop this post. (The leopard is circled in red in the bottom image.)

“Mark and I were out in the field for the duration of 17 days without a shower and in the same clothes that we started in,” Vandyke told GrindTV. “On one watch for leopards, one of our Ladakhi friends bought us a liter bottle of water to drink at 1pm. By 2:30 p.m., in the broad sunlight, that water had completely frozen over.”

Snow leopard attacks, but blue sheep escapes. Photo: ©Inger Vandyke

Endangered snow leopards reside in the rocky, steep terrain and prey on wild sheep and smaller animals. Throughout the 17 days, Vandyke and Beaman spotted five snow leopards, but were amazed by the large cats’ ability to seemingly vanish before their eyes.

She credited the Ladakhi people for helping to spot animals that she and Beaman might never have seen.

“The Ladakhis are incredible in this way,” Vandyke said. “Some of spotted snow leopards, then tried to point them out to us and it took us several minutes to train our vision to see them.

“Even in the ‘camouflaged leopard’ photograph you see in my images, we had followed that leopard so we knew where he was, but each time we took our cameras away from our faces to have a rest from carrying a heavy lens, we would try to locate him again to take a photo and it would take us a minute or more to try and find him again as he hid behind a rock.”

But the cat realized the surprise element was lost. It licked its paws, and climbed to a rocky ledge, where presumably it would spend the night.

Vandyke said witnessing the attack was the high point of her career as a photographer.

Can you spot him? Barely distinguishable from the grey mountain side, snow leopards’ stealth has earned them the sinister sobriquet ‘the grey ghosts of the Himalayas’

Creeping closer: The big cat is difficult to spot as he slowly stalks a couple of blue sheep in the foothills of the Himlayas

Ready for the kill: Its body coiled like a spring, the leopard waits for the right moment before breaking cover and pouncing on the unsuspecting sheep below

The dramatic set of photographs follows one snow leopard as it stalks a blue sheep in the Himalayas, inching closer and closer before pouncing and ripping the animal’s throat open.

Matter of life and death: The snow leopard bounds down the mountainside, with its blue sheep prey making a desperate run for it

Coming in for the kill: The leopard rapidly closes in on the blue sheep with a giant leap from on outcrop to the next, quickly closing in on the hapless animal

Switchback: The desperate sheep changes direction in the hope that it can wrongfoot the advancing snow leopard

Desperate: Even in the difficult mountain terrain, there is no way it can outrun the determined predator on its heels

The end is nigh: Finally, in a cloud of dust and gravel kicked up in the chase, the hungry cat catches up with his prey

Fight of his life: The animal desperately tries to flee, but at this stage there is no escape from the crafty predator

The coup de grâce: The snow leopard sinks his teeth into the blue sheep and drags the doomed animal down the mountainside

Time for dinner: He pauses for a second over the felled beast, catching his breath, before beginning the meal he has worked so hard for

Takeaway food: The predator drags off the dead blue sheep to a spot where he can feast in private

Mr Riley said that capturing the moment of the kill evoked in him a mixture of ‘intense exhilaration and tremendous relief.’ He believes that his photographs are the first ever taken of a snow leopard making a kill.

Did you spot him? The snow leopard began his mission hiding behind this rocky outcrop, peering down at the blue sheep below

Not easy to see: Here the circle shows how the predator blended in with the rock of the mountainside, his oblivious prey grazing below

Sleek and discreet: This picture shows how the animal’s distinctive markings camouflage him against the patters of the rocks

With just 7,000 in surviving in the wild, and those that are there so difficult to spot, the snow leopard has become something of a holy grail for wildlife photographers working in the Himalayas

Almost imperceptible: This picture featured earlier this month on MailOnline shows another snow leopard stalking the Himalayan foothills

Snow leopards are classed as endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature. Hemis National Park, a stronghold for the creatures, is home to around 50 or 60.

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