As a naturally elusive creature, it is notoriously difficult for researchers to find the clues they need to understand the life of the mysterious snow leopard. But this summer our field team made a remarkable breakthrough, and uncovered the composition of a wild snow leopards diet. This information is imperative to understanding how dependent snow leopards are on domestic livestock, and exactly what wild species they prefer.
After visiting over 150 fresh prey remains throughout Mongolia over the period of a year, it was found that over 60% of animals successfully hunted by snow leopards were ibex. Other prey include domestic goat, argali, sheep, horse and camel, but this evidence of a strong preference for ibex will be shared with local herders to help develop methods for increasing wild ibex populations while better protecting domestic livestock herds.