Snow Leopard Trust Updates
Field researchers conducting our long-term ecological study are watching the movements of our known female snow leopards with fingers crossed. If the females begin to restrict their movements, it could mean that they are looking for a potential den site in order to give birth to cubs. Khashaa, Lasya and Anu are all moving within smaller regions, but have yet to settle on a location that would indicate a den. (more…)
Since 2008, we have been visiting the sites where we seen our collared cats stop for periods of time. We referred to these as ‘clusters’ because we see them as a cluster of data points. Most often the cats stop traveling because they have killed a prey animal and will take a few days to eat. With some detective work, we can gather a lot of information about the animal killed, such as the species, age, sex and general health.
We also survey the habitat nearby to get a better understanding of where the snow leopards hunt. In some clusters the snow leopard has simply laid down to rest, and I have learned that snow leopards prefer to take naps in very, very steep and rugged terrain. Those sites involve a lot of climbing, balancing and telling oneself that vertigo is a highly irrational feeling.
Thank you to everyone who helped us meet our goal!
This incredible accomplishment was only made possible by the generosity of our 260 newest donors and everyone who helped us spread the word! Not only were we able to meet our $13,000 goal, but because we did it by our April 30th deadline, every dollar has been DOUBLED!
This means that $26,000 will go to support conservation programs like Snow Leopard Enterprises, where impoverished families earn additional income and pledge to protect the snow leopards living nearby.
We cannot thank our new supporters enough for taking the leap and making their first contribution!
A new snow leopard has been fitted with a GPS tracking collar in the South Gobi region of Mongolia! As part of our long-term ecological study, we will follow this cats movements for the next year. Field researcher, Örjan Johansson, shares the experience of meeting his 16th wild snow leopard:
Mood in camp got instantly better when the siren started and the LED under “Trap alarm” lit up early evening. We rushed to the ATVs and got to the snare about 50 minutes after it had been triggered. I can’t describe the relief when I looked over a hill and saw a snow leopard lying on the other side. It was extremely windy and he had not heard us coming. The cat crawled back against the wall and lied down looking at us.
We went up to about ten meters from him and except for his eyes, he didn’t move a whisker. I didn’t want to shoot because the wind was coming from the side and the darts can easily fly more than a meter of course in such strong wind. So I took a few steps toward the cat, when I was about seven meters from him he barred all his teeth in a huge grin, saying “that is close enough”, still lying down. So I backed one step and he calmed down again and went back to just glaring at me. Had to wait for the wind to calm down for a second and then shot. We left the site and when we came back a few minutes later the cat was asleep in the same position.
Except for the wind the collaring was uneventful. It is quite difficult to gather all measurements, collect all samples and monitor vital signs when you have to put rocks on all the equipment to keep it from flying away. The cat is a new male (obviously), he weighed a little more than 44 kg and we think that he is 3-4 years old. It will be interesting to see if he is the new dominant male here. Shonkhor, the old dominant male in this range, died in summer 2011.
Now, we are eagerly waiting for the females. Pretty much the same as a lot of other guys on a Friday evening…
Örjan Johansson is a Ph.D. student at the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU). He is the field scientist in our Long Term Ecological Study about snow leopards in South Gobi, Mongolia. Örjan’s groundbreaking research is generously supported by Nordens Ark Zoo in Bohuslän, Sweden, and by Kolmården Zoo, in Norrköping, Sweden.
This study is a joint project of PANTHERA, Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation in cooperation with the Mongolia Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, and the Mongolia Academy of Sciences.
March marked the beginning of the spring season in Mongolia, and we are proud to welcome snow leopard expert Orjan back to our base camp in the South Gobi. We are looking forward to collaring more snow leopards in the month of April, but here is what our currently collared cats have been up too.
Aztai has been traveling throughout his central home range and then to the east, meeting up with Khashaa and M9 on March 9th. Khashaa and her cub travelled together until March 23rd, and they stayed approximately four kilometers apart until the 29th.
Lasya traveled the entire central area of her home range during March, and was seen with Aztai at two separate locations between February 23rd and February 28th. It is possible that they may have mated.
Anu was on a cluster site (a potential kill) on March 5th-9th and then went on to circle the entire area of her home range. Anu met up with Khavar on February 20th-22nd, and again on the 29th. Unfortunately, Khavar slipped his collar on that same day (February 29th), and so we have not been able to tell if these two met up again. We suspect these two may have mated as well.