Our research cameras offer a wealth of knowledge about the location and behavior of the snow leopards we protect. These cameras take a series of photographs that we use to identify specific cats and the places they travel through. This information helps us determine where our conservation efforts will have the greatest impact.
We use the research camera technology in India, Mongolia and Pakistan, where we focus on predetermined 400 km2 areas. This standard size helps us define our study regions in order to create more accurate results that can be easily compared.
We set up multiple cameras (between 20-40) in that range, most often in the summer when snow leopards are likely to be exploring. The cameras takes a picture every half-second when a source of heat (i.e. a snow leopard, fox, goat, or human) moves in front of it, creating a sequence of photographs that can be strung together into a stop-motion clip.
Each camera can take up to 2,500 photos, which researchers use to identify individual snow leopards based on spot patterns. Did you know each snow leopard has a completely unique coat? Their rosette pattern is just like your fingerprints!
We use this count of individual snow leopards (and sometimes their little cubs!), to determine the approximate number of cats in an area. From there we can determine if the region is important snow leopard habitat.
These cameras are a non-intrusive addition in to the snow leopard’s natural environment, and we often see snow leopards come close to investigate these new fixtures in their home. Sometimes the same snow leopard is seen on multiple cameras, giving us a unique look into their personality and behavior. Watch all of our incredible snow leopard videos made from the images taken by these research cameras in the Photos and Videos section.