In early April, Snow Leopard Trust field researcher confirmed that Tsagaan, one of the snow leopards in our long term ecological study had passed away due to natural causes. Aztai, a rival male living adjacent to Tsagaan’s previous home range, has been seen exploring the territory that had previously belonged to Tsagaan at the complete exclusion of his own. The most interesting part of this exploration is how quickly Aztai realized that Tsagaan was no longer present. We’re not sure if Aztai might continue to use Tsagaan’s territory or if he will return to his own, but we will continue to follow his movements to learn more.
Aztai’s travels also bring him into close contact with two females in our study, Khashaa and Tenger, although we have not yet recorded any encounters. Zaraa, the youngest female in our study, moved 30 km southeast before she returned to the southern region of the South Gobi where her mother is known to reside. Shonkor spent most of his time in his core area, which is situated west of the other cats in our study, but adventured southeast about 20 km, coming quite close to two newly collared females (Anu and Lasya) and Khavar, a collared male.
These two new females are welcomed additions to our study. Anu is named after a popular warrior princess from Mongolian folklore and Lasya is named after the term for ‘great beauty’. These two females have been very close to one another recently as well as Khavar, Aztai and Khashaa.
With so many new faces we look forward to the opportunity to provide another detailed update soon so stay tuned!