Running along the mountains of northern India, two fluffy-looking creatures seamlessly navigate the rugged terrain. The pale-colored pair jump around before pausing and making their way back to a third, larger animal.
The energetic and stunning animals — or “ghost of the mountains” — were captured on video in India’s Himachal Pradesh, a government official with the Indian Forest Service, Parveen Kaswan, said Monday, March 6, on Twitter.
The video shows a young snow leopard walking along a rocky mountain slope. A second small snow leopard jumps down from a ridge. The camera follows the pair as they effortlessly run and jump along the slippery terrain, the video filmed by Ankur Rapria shows.
The cubs slow down on a sunny plateau. In the sunlight, their black-speckled coats almost seamlessly blend into their surroundings — only the cats’ shadows give them away.
The camera cuts to the pair climbing down a series of ridges before making their way up to a large outcropping. Almost invisible in the shade lies the mother snow leopard. She licks the faces of her cubs as the family reunites.
“Powerful, agile, secretive & beautiful,” Kaswan said on Twitter.
Rapria filmed the snow leopard family last week in Kibber, he wrote on Twitter. “Look at love, joy (and) happiness,” he said, as the cubs “reunite with the mother after hearing her call.”
The elusive snow leopard is “one of the most mysterious cats in the world,” according to the World Wildlife Fund in India. The species is considered vulnerable and threatened.
Only about 400 to 700 snow leopards remain in the wild in India, the organization said. However, these population numbers are only estimates because the stealthy cat is “very rarely seen by humans.”
To help research and track the animal, the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department manages a snow leopard conservation program, according to its website. The organization did not immediately respond to McClatchy News’ request for comment.
Kibber is located in northern Himachal Pradesh and about 430 miles northeast of New Delhi.
This story was initially printed March 6, 2023, 1:29 PM.