There’s a Snow Leopard Hidden in Plain Sight in This Photo. Do You See it?
Have you ever been on a hike through the mountains and crossed paths with a wild animal? If you have, then you know how thrilling—and terrifying! —the experience can be. You see, when you happen upon a beast in that way, you quickly come to a stark realization: “there are probably OTHER (and potentially bigger!) animals out here that I’m not even seeing!”
Not exactly something that makes you want to strap on those hiking boots, huh? Well, today’s photo embodies that “Is a hidden animal hunting me down without me knowing it?” anxiety perfectly.
If you look at the above image, you will see what appears to be a steep, rocky hillside with a couple of grazing sheep in the foreground. Although it sure is a striking sight, it’s one that has sort of an ordinary feel to it. It doesn’t look as though the animals are in any imminent danger.
Well, unbeknownst to the sheep, there is a predator—the rare snow leopard—lurking somewhere behind their backs, waiting for the perfect moment to go in for the kill. Yep, our heart just started beating a little bit faster, too.
Now, it’s important to note that this leopard isn’t really trying too hard to go unnoticed, but his fur certainly is camouflaging him quite well.
How about now?
Photographing the rare snow leopard
One of the things that makes this shot so incredible is the fact that it was even taken in the first place.
As it turns out, the snow leopard is known to be one of the hardest-to-spot creatures on the planet. In fact, the photographer who took this incredible picture, Inger Vandyke, is actually both the first woman and Australian to ever capture the wild cat on film.
It’s quite the feat, considering the wildlife photographer was exposed to weeks of rough conditions in Ladakh, India, just to get that perfect shot. Luckily, she was able to make her dream come true, but that doesn’t mean that the process was always simple—or comfortable, for that matter!
In a 2015 interview with The Telegraph, Vandyke gives us an idea of how tiresome it was to get images of the snow leopard in its natural habitat. To start off, she and her tour group spent a whopping 17 days in sub-zero temperatures, with no real guarantee that they would meet the creatures.
Luckily, about one-third of the way into their expedition, they spotted a group of the rare cats.
“On day five of our trip we began tracking four leopards for a total of five days and we had so many encounters with them. It was amazing,” Vandyke recalls.
Wow! Now that we know just how difficult it was to nab the shot in the first place, we certainly have a greater appreciation for the viral photo—no matter how confounding it may be!
See where this elusive snow leopard is hiding and learn more facts about these amazing felines by watching the video below. How could such a big cat be so hard to spot?
We’d love to hear your thoughts on this chameleon-like snow leopard. Were you able to spot the animal just by looking at the original photograph? If so, how much time did it take you? Have you ever encountered any other amazing camouflaging creatures in the wild before?