Follow The Cats
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.
Thanks to you, snow leopard conservation has taken a great leap forward this November! The votes have been counted and we are thrilled to report that snow leopards made it to the top three in the BBC World Challenge!
Making it to the finals guarantees $10,000 for snow leopard conservation, but we find out on December 5th if we’ve won the first place prize of $20,000 and the feature on BBC World News and in Newsweek magazine! Winning this challenge would share our snow leopard conservation efforts with millions of people, and we are hopeful that there will be more good news soon.
Never before have there been such a tremendous outpouring of support from snow leopard advocates, and this remarkable accomplishment would never have been possible without dedicated supporters like you. Our sincerest thank you to every person who took action by voting in the BBC World Challenge and to those who shared the vote with others!
We will have the final results in two weeks, so please check back soon for more details!
Orjan returned to our Mongolian research base camp in early October, and he has already accomplished some incredible things. With the help of Kullu from our India program, Aztai was fitted with a replacement collar on October 15th. The new collar has been reprogrammed to send updates on Aztai’s locations more frequently, giving us the chance to learn even more about this remarkable snow leopard. Aztai was one of the first cats we met through our long term ecological study and so he made the perfect candidate to receive the special new collar.
Three days later on October 18th, Khashaa also received a replacement collar but when researchers made it to the site, they noticed she was not travelling alone. Khashaa was accompanied by her two cubs, who sat high up on the mountain face and watched over their mother while she was being fitted. While running the standard health tests, Orjan made an incredible discovery. Khashaa was weighed at 41.5 kg, which is the world record for any female snow leopard we’ve seen in the wild so far. This means that Khashaa and her two cubs are all extremely healthy, and this ‘supermom’ continues to live up to her name!Photos Courtesy of SLT/Panthera, Khashaa photo by Ben Morlang
Two GPS collars have been located recently in the South Gobi region of Mongolia thanks to field biologist Sumbee!
The first belongs to Devekh, who was collared on February 25th, 2010. His collar had malfunctioned and stopped sending out signals shortly after it was placed, making it incredibly difficult to find. However, Sumbee recovered the collar on August 20th, 2011 after a thorough investigation of the area we believed Devekh to be. The collar has been sent to the manufacturer to download the data that has been stored. This information will help us define his home range and provide insight on any interactions he may have had with other snow leopards.
Khashaa’s collar has recently recovered as well, although the drop off date of September 2nd was expected. The collar was located just 4 meters from where her last GPS uplink placed her, and we have very high hopes that Orjan, our expert field researcher, will be able to replace her collar this fall. Khashaa, previously dubbed supermom, has provided a wealth of knowledge about cub rearing and we wish all the best until we see her again.
Photos Courtesy of SLT/Panthera
Friday, the designate Snow Leopard Ambassador to the Snow Leopard Trust, became a member of our Mongolian research team in the summer of 2008 with the mission to keep our lonely researchers company during their stay at base camp. Her crazy antics are those any cat owner can relate to and have been well documented by our lead researcher, Orjan.
“Friday has made a nice cat door by pushing down one of the roof-windows so that it smashed against the floor. Friday seems to think of this as a big improvement since she can go in and out as she pleases, although she is oblivious to the shattered glass around the ger.”
“If there is enough firewood in the stove Friday will sleep about 50 cm from it (under the table), as the fire dies the cat moves closer to the stove. Just before the fire goes out she squeezes herself under the stove, this ‘Cat-O-Meter’ is a very good notification that it is time to put in more firewood.”
In April of this year, Friday gave birth to three kittens that Orjan helps take care of.
“I made a nice box for her, insulated with spare clothes. But when I came back… my sleeping bag had a little cat family in it. At night, she insisted that I help keep the kittens warm and she put them in the sleeping bag with me. In the end I gave up my thick winter sleeping bag to Friday and started using my thin summer sleeping bag. They provide a lot of joy out here; it adds a lot to our lives to have a cat family in camp, so I reckon that I have to accept being a little cold.”