December 5, 2017
Snow Leopard Surprise
- as seen by -Altangerel Sukhbaatar
As we sat on the mountainous outcrops carefully examining our latest camera trap shots, we were suddenly chilled to see a pair of uncanny round eyes staring back at us from one of them. Undoubtedly they were those of a snow leopard (Panthera uncia) that lives in the easternmost reaches of the Mongolian Gobi desert. As elusive as these cats are, we could not help but look around to check that they were not watching us from nearby.
Through a community-based conservation project focused on sustainable cashmere production, we recently installed 20 motion sensor cameras to explore the abundance and behavior of wildlife in the area. We strategically placed our cameras near snow leopard markings where the cats scrape the ground and leave their urine scent to mark their territory and to find possible mates. This photo captured an adult snow leopard relieved to find that its marking has been left untouched.
Words cannot express how excited we were to learn more about this population in the Gobi. We hope to find more images of these rare big cats from the numerous camera traps we have not yet had a chance to visit.
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