Nine Lives: Meet the Snow Leopards On The Air Right Now

The Snow Leopard Trust's research team is currently tracking a record nine wild snow leopards in Mongolia's Tost Mountains with GPS collars. Here's a look at these nine cats and what we know about them.

Anu (F5) – Snow Leopard Supermom

Anu is nothing short of a snow leopard star! She’s been in the spotlight since her birth in 2009, contributing to our study and successfully raising three litters of cubs. Her latest offspring, F11, is also wearing a GPS collar right now, and should soon disperse from her mother to find her own home range. We can’t wait to see if Anu will have cubs again next year!

We’ve written a lot about Anu in the past – check out some of these stories below:

Anu’s Tale – From Little Cub to Proud Mother of Triplets

The Circle of Life: News from Anu

The Gobi Diaries, Part V: Hey Again, Anu

Dagina (F8) – Pioneer Spirit

Dagina lives on the northwestern edge of our study area, in the Tosonbumba mountain range and the adjacent badlands. Like Anu, she’s been part of our study almost since birth, and has contributed to many groundbreaking insights into her species. And like Anu, Dagina is currently raising a cub (at least her second!). At nine years old, this trailblazer is still going strong, and we’re excited to see what she has in store for us next!

Read more about Dagina in this story:

Dagina: Snow Leopard and Scientific Pioneer

Khurhuun ach (F10) – Beautiful Granddaughter (and mom)

This snow leopard mom, named by Mark and Vickie Nysether family in honor of their granddaughter, lives in the northwestern part of Tost, overlapping in part with Anu and her cub (F11) and another female, F12, as well as with M15 (The Dude).

Tracking her movements, our team located and visited her den in 2017 and found two cubs there.

This September, Khurhuun ach has started to increasingly venture outside of her normal territory, leaving on a few expeditions. Another female – perhaps F12 – may be pushing her out of the territory. It will be interesting to observe her movements going forward.

F11 – Baby Anu

F11 is Anu’s latest offsprig – and she’s her mother’s cub! “A feisty little girl”, says snow leopard researcher Örjan Johansson, who equipped her with a GPS collar in October 2018.

We first saw F11 a few weeks before collaring her on a camera trap photo. Together with her mom Anu, she had inspected a cage we’d built to try and catch ibex for collaring, and found it interesting enough to play with.

We don’t know much about F11 yet, but if all goes according to plan, we’ll be able to watch her disperse and find her own territory in the early part of 2019. This will add invaluable new information about how snow leopards migrate and disperse!

F12

This female of about four to five years is overlapping with Anu and F11 is range – and it appears the may even share some meals! Her location data showed F11 visiting the exact location where Anu had taken down a prey animal just a few days earlier, after Anu and her daughter had eaten and moved on.

F12 must have had at least one litter of cubs at some point in her life, but we don’t know if she currently has any offspring with her.
Nachin Devee (M13) – Fighting Falcon

This young male was named in honor of our late colleague, Sumbee Tumursukh. It was Sumbee’s family who chose the cat’s name. We’ve collared Nachin Devee twice – first in April 2017, and again a year later in April 2018.

Nachin Devee lives almost entirely within M14’s territory. He moves around a lot -His range covers more than 40km of the length of the Tost Mountains – and behaves like a young (2-3 years old) male. He should settle down now as he is almost four years old. However, Nachin Devee is small for his age, perhaps he is a small male and will not reach the size needed to maintain a territory but will remain a ’floater’ for his entire life. Time will tell.

In spring 2018, we filmed Nachin Devee as he passed along a ridge just above our research camp.

Read about Sumbee’s legacy here:

Snow Leopard Named in Honor of Late Mongolian Researcher

Read more about Nachin Devee’s collaring in this story:

The Gobi Diaries, Part VII: Save the Best for Last

Genghis (M14) – the Ruler

Genghis, named after the famed Mongolian ruler Genghis Khan by the Huston family, is a big young male. We believe he is only 3 years old, but he already weighs more than 41 kg. “He might grow up to become a really big dude”, Örjan Johansson says.

Genghis use more or less exactly the same territory as his predecessors Tsagaan and Aztai – two male snow leopards we had tracked earlier. It’s another indication that territorial borders appear to stay largely the same across several generations of snow leopards. We believe this may be due to natural landmarks or barriers, such as e.g. big valleys the cats don’t like to cross; as well as to existing neighbors that set boundaries of their own territories.

M15 aka “The Dude” – Destroyer of Cameras

“The Dude”, as we’ve nicknamed him for now, is HUGE. He likes to destroy our cameras. He appears to be as confident as he is big – “when we approached him in the snare to collar him, he was very calm. He didn’t even flinch when the tranquilizer dart struck him. He just let out a long, low growl. Other male usually put on a display of strength when we approach them; baring their teeth, hissing and growling loudly. This guy doesn’t bother with any such tactics. He just lets it be known that he doesn’t like us very much”, Örjan recalls.

M15 seems to have taken over the range that was previously occupied by M12 (Uulin ezen), another male we’d tracked for a while before his collar failed. This is the same territory our first-ever collared cat, Aztai, used before taking over a better area when it became available after the death of the cat that had lived there before.

However, M15 uses a smaller portion of this range so far – the smallest area of any of our collared males. This could well change in the future though – after all, we’ve only tracked him for a few months.

Read more about “The Dude” and his habit of destroying our camera traps:

Did “The Dude” Set a Snow Leopard World Record?

M16

M16 is a young male – he is probably 2.5 years old and lives inside M15’s territory. He frequently ventures out of his core range though. So far, his behavior appears to be consistent with that of other young males we’ve tracked – he mainly stays within another male’s territory, but isn’t quite settled there. This may be a form of “truce” – an older, stronger male tolerating the younger, smaller cat in his range as long as he keeps a “low profile”.

M16’s approach may be safer for a young male rather than moving around constantly and risking to encounter lots of different territorial males. Such encounters would carry a high risk of fights and injuries to the younger cat. M16 seems to have largely avoided such spats – he didn’t have a single scar on his nose when he was collared!

10 Comments

  1. such beautiful big cats, they are among my favorites in wildlife, I so enjoy learning about them, please continue protecting them so well

  2. Hi, long time supporter, first time commenter. I always enjoy reading your updates. What beautiful and amazing snow leopards. I really hope you’re making a difference. I am afraid that with the way the world is today these animals will all be extinct soon. Is there any hope at all?

  3. Beautiful, Beautiful — Thank you for all you do for these magnificent creatures. I admire and respect all of you people who work so hard to bring these animals to the attention of all of us around world!

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