By Matthias Fiechter
The Snow Leopard Trust’s field team has managed to equip a male snow leopard with a GPS collar, allowing them to track the cat’s movements in the months to come. The collaring was part of the organization’s long-term study into the ecology and behavior of these elusive cats.
“The cat weighed 44.3 kg and we think he is four to five years old”, Snow Leopard Trust field scientist Örjan Johansson, who led the collaring, reports.
This is the 20th snow leopard the Trust has been able to equip with a GPS collar since their ongoing long-term study began in 2008, and the 11th male.
The freshly collared cat has been named “Tsetsen”, Mongolian for “ingenious” or “crafty”.
With the long-term snow leopard study in the South Gobi region of Mongolia, the Snow Leopard Trust and its partners have been breaking new ground in the research of this elusive, endangered cat. Results from this study have vastly expanded our knowledge of the snow leopard’s behavior, its spatial and nutritional needs, its reproductive cycle and population dynamics.
Data gained from the previous 19 cats that had been equipped with GPS collars have yielded insights into snow leopard cub dispersal, migration between mountain ranges, and predation patterns, i.e.
These insights have informed conservation approaches and have been crucial in efforts to protect parts of the cats’ habitat in the area.
It will be interesting to compare the movement patterns of this new cat to its predecessors. Analysis of existing research camera photos from the area will perhaps also shed some light on the cat’s history and family connection to other known snow leopards in the area.
The long-term snow leopard study is a joint project of the Snow Leopard Trust and Snow Leopard Conservation Foundation in cooperation with the Mongolia Ministry of Nature, Environment and Tourism, and the Mongolia Academy of Sciences.