Follow The Cats
During the last week of May, our field researchers began to observe some interesting behavior in two of the female snow leopards in our long-term ecological study. Anu and Lasya had started to restrict their movements significantly, and we began to suspect that the two were pregnant and looking for den sites.
We have been monitoring the two cats since we first noticed this pattern, and were able to identify the sites they had chosen to give birth. On June 21st, snow leopard expert Orjan, field researcher Sumbe and their team set out to investigate the sites in hopes of catching a glimpse of wild cubs.
We have heard back from the field, and are thrilled to report that Anu has had one cub and Lasya has had two cubs! They both picked excellent den sites only a few kilometers away from each other–the perfect snow leopard nursery. Both sites are close to water and herds of wild prey, and all three cubs looked healthy and well taken care of.
Photo courtesy of Snow Leopard Trust/Panthera
The only other snow leopard we have known during dispersal was Zaraa, who left her mother Tenger in February of last year. A few weeks after M9 went off on his own, field researcher Orjan located his first big kill, a 5 year old female ibex. He ate for six days, and since that time has been seen on two additional kill sites. The young snow leopard is doing great! (more…)
Orjan Johansson is our snow leopard collaring expert currently living at the research base camp in the South Gobi of Mongolia. Life is harsh in mountain ranges where snow leopards are found, and Orjan shares his experience:
As we were eating breakfast a couple of days ago it struck me that there are no ‘littles’ here. There is never “a little wind” or “a little hot”. Two days before this realization, it was an exceptionally hot day with a blazing sun. I was wearing a light shirt and still sweated heavily. But the day after, it was so cold that I had to dig out the long-johns and woolen cap again. This morning the wind blew so hard that the ger itself moved, and motor-biking would involve a substantial risk if caught in a crosswind.
For the past 50 days, I have had company more or less 24/7. The visitors have been great, but it is a little tiring to constantly have people that are dependent on me in camp. But the alternative is to be alone here, which I have been for the last three days after the visitors departed. Alone in the Gobi means living without another human being in sight. So I’m not ‘a little alone’. I’m totally alone.
Since my brother installed the microprocessors, our trap surveillance system has worked perfect! That is, it worked perfect until a few hours after my assistant and Charu left camp, then it broke down… With excellent help from my brother I have isolated the problem, a small amplifier broke. It is a common part found in most stores that sell electronic supplies and it costs a couple of dollars. Unfortunately, there are simply no electronic stores here. So I must again get up every third hour and climb the mountain to manually listen to the trap transmitters. I would love to be just ‘a little tired’ and ‘a little luckier’.
An adorable sleeping snow leopard cuddles up for the night! Situated right in front of our research camera, an adult cat explores the area and finally snuggles up against the chilly nighttime air.
We have created a stop-motion film from the pictures, creating the longest video the Snow Leopard Trust has ever published! Check out this remarkable video on our YouTube page!
This January, we saw some incredible movements from the snow leopards in our long-term ecological study.
Aztai spent the first half of the month in the southeastern region of his home range, but later circled the entire area three times! Khavar toured his home range throughout the month as well, and was seen making two separate trips to visit our base camp.
Khashaa is still travelling with her cubs, including M9 who is also wearing a GPS collar, and has covered her entire home range and six cluster sites since late December. Anu travelled extensively in January, visiting six different locations and spending a few days at each. Her travels were very close to those of Lasya, although the never actually overlapped at the same time.
In other news from the field, congratulations to our ungulate expert Kullu for completing his field work! 2We’re excited to share his results with you soon!
Above Photo of Aztai Courtesy of Snow Leopard Trust and Panthera.