Copycat? Collared Snow Leopard Tsetsen Mimics Predecessor

GPS location data show a Mongolian snow leopard tracing the paw marks of another male cat that used to live in the same mountain range.

Earlier this year, a new male snow leopard became part of our long-term study into these cats’ behavior in Mongolia as our field team managed to equip him with a GPS collar.

Tsetsen, taking a break from tracing Ariun's steps
Tsetsen, taking a break from tracing Ariun’s steps

He was named Tsetsen, Mongolian for “ingenious”.

Early analysis of his location data are providing fascinating insights. Tsetsen’s behavior seems to mimic almost exactly that of Ariun, another male cat that was part of our study until December of 2013.

Ariun, the ‘original’

“Their ranging patterns are nearly identical” says Senior Regional Ecologist Dr. Koustubh Sharma. “We’ve seen male snow leopards using home ranges previously occupied by other males before, but never such an exact match.”

While it’s impossible at this stage to tell what might be behind the nearly identical movement patterns of Tsetsen and Ariun, they at least suggest that a snow leopard’s habitat selection may be influenced by some external factors that remain constant, such as topographical features.

Tsetsen is currently the only cat in our long-term study in Mongolia’s Tost- Tosonbumba Mountains wearing a GPS collar, but the 20th snow leopard we’ve been able to track with this technology since the study began in 2008.

Did you know that you can symbolically adopt Tsetsen to help fund this crucial snow leopard research? Click here to find out more!


    1. Hi Anindza. We are not entirely sure, but we did lose contact with Ariun about a year ago and later found a dead snow leopard next to a GPS collar that may have been him. There have also not been any photos of him since, so that conclusion is sadly rather likely. The body was unfortunately too decomposed to determine with certainty or find out more about the cause of the cat’s death.

      Matt, SLT Communications Officer

  1. Interesting news indeed about Tsetsen.
    Re Ariun, that is sad news indeed. Although perhaps we can surmise that Ariun may have died of natural causes as otherwise if it was a poaching incident his body would have been removed. Good luck with Tsetsten.

  2. Cause of Ariun death is unknown. How can you tell Ariun is died by poacher or natural causes. Wish can see picture of decomposed cat body. Very sad ending. Only Tsetsen in long-term study…. Wish have more snow leopard into study group….Tsetsen is beautiful…wish him long live…

  3. Beautiful pictures of Tsetsen. Very sad about Ariun. I really hope that wasn’t his body and he’s still living though that’s probably unlikely. Snow leopards are my favorite wild cat, and though I get sad when a animal dies, I get REALLY sad when a cat dies.
    Good luck with all your beautiful furballs!

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