Behaviour of young snow leopards to be monitored in Sayano-Shushensky Reserve

Behaviour of young snow leopards to be monitored in Sayano-Shushensky Reserve

30 April 2015

Winter expeditions have wrapped up in the Sayano-Shushensky Reserve. The scientists are now processing field data, adding to information about species that live in the reserve. They are focusing on collecting information about rare species, especially snow leopards. During the field work, the scientists regularly found traces of animal life and followed trails of fresh tracks.


Photos from trail cameras, or camera traps, are another source of information about snow leopards. The reserve is equipped with 55 automatic camera traps for conducting research. In addition to snow leopards, manul cats, stone martens, a lynx with cubs, wolverines, wolves and other inhabitants of the reserve are regularly photographed. By analysing the photos, researchers will be able to determine the population dynamics, gender and spatial structure of snow leopards and their physical condition, as well as monitor cubs.


Thanks to images obtained during the winter expeditions, the researchers found that a snow leopard called Mongol, an old resident of the reserve, is in good physical condition and lives in its permanent territory, while another snow leopard, Ikhtiandr, tends to leave the left bank for the right one, crossing a wide ice-covered reservoir of the Sayano-Shushenskaya hydro power station.


The researchers also closely monitor a female cat that was born in 2011 in the reserve and gave birth to three kittens in spring 2014. Photos and videos show that the kittens have grown, are maturing well and even stray from their mother when walking to examine interesting things. To avoid dangerous encounters, the cat and her kittens move about only at night and twilight.


The research on this group of one of the rarest wild cats living in the Sayano-Shushensky Reserve is carried out as part of a project supported by the Russian Geographical Society. Now the researchers are to study the behaviour of young snow leopards, as well as the dynamics of the structure and formation of their individual territories. Then, they will work on identifying the causes and routes of snow leopard migration, as the cats usually leave their parental territory after growing up.

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