Snow Leopard Trust Updates
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.
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!
Right now we are asking all new donors to take the next step in conservation. We have been challenged to raise $13,000 from NEW DONORS by April 30, 2012 and we need your help! If we meet this goal- four longtime supporters will match every dollar, doubling your impact on snow leopard conservation!
If you voted for us in the World Challenge or made a purchase from our store- thank you! Your support has been critical in supporting our efforts. If you take the next step and donate today, you will help us make the most of this one-of-a-kind opportunity!
But the race is on. If we don’t raise all $13,000 by the end of April, we will miss out on the match-so please make your very first gift today!
Match generously provided by the Sengupta Family, Margie Wetherald and Len Barson.
As Sumbee heads to Ulaanbaatar, he leaves our Mongolian base camp temporarily unmanned. Our staffing plan for the country is in development for 2012, but we hope to see Orjan make his return sometime this March. This would mean the beginning of a new collaring season, where we would have the chance to meet more snow leopards living in the area!
Khavar spent most of his time in the in the middle of his home range, although his did travel west toward Aztai and then east toward Khashaa and M9 between January 10-19. Khashaa and M9 continue to travel together, and came within .6 kilometers of Aztai on January 26th. Aztai traveled back and forth between the southeast and west regions of his home range.
Anu has been hunting less than 4 meters to the north of the badlands for the past month, and Lasya has had a number of close encounters. Lasya traveled extensively, and may have met up with Anu, Aztai, and Khashaa/M9 on separate occasions.