March 26, 2010
On March 3, 2010 our own Megan Sanders received an update from the Snow Leopard Trust letting us know that they just collared a brand new male Snow Leopard near the research camp! They are hoping to collar a female this year but this male looks like he may be young and in great shape. This is VERY EXCITING!!! He is known as M7 on the GPS maps.
The latest update from Jennifer Snell Rullman, Conservation Program Director at the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) is as follows:
Update for March 15–19, 2010:
After several weeks of only hearing from one or two cats, we have recent location uplinks from four of the five collared snow leopards. Perhaps one of the most remarkable journeys depicted by this data is that of our newest cat we call M7. He is a real mover! He was fitted with his collar on February 16th and almost immediately took off on a NE path covering over 30 km in less than a week across extremely rugged terrain (meaning he may have had to walk up to 60 km from point to point when considering the actual terrain). This week was no different. After apparently hunting on the April 7th he stayed there until the 10th before moving further north. Once he hit the edge of the mountain range he was faced with a vast expanse of steppe/desert in front of him. He opted to turn back to the SW, nearly following in his own footsteps, until he reached and area we call “the badlands.” At this point it is very possible that he skirted this area, as the badlands is an area of low-lying sandstone-like formations we consider to be unsuitable snow leopard habitat (both Itgel and Saikhan have come close to, but seemingly avoided, the badlands as well). He finally turned again, walking back to the SE, covering more than 30 km in just two days. This lengthy and rapid movement pattern is similar to what Aztai exhibited in his initial days after collaring.
Three locations were received from Shonkhor, who appears to have set off on yet another one of his trademark expeditions. He has crossed the wide valley separating Toson Bumba and Tost mountains, and based on the uplink from him on the 12th of March, was near the south-western edge of Aztai's home range.
In contrast to M7 and Shonkhor’s long treks, Aztai continued patrolling the core of his home range.
Orjan also managed to replace Tsagaan's collar, which was running low on batteries, on the 12th of March when he was caught less than 200 m from the camp. Tsagaan seems to have grown in size since he was last caught. He now weighs 44.5 kg and his body length has increased by 4 cm, making him 124 cm long. Unfortunately, since his successful release we have not heard from the collar and so we are waiting to see if there is a malfunction with the collar or if he is holed up in an area where the signal can not reach the satellite. But as each day goes by we are more concerned that the collar has failed to turn on. Hopefully we will hear from his collar soon and then Orjan will head towards the Toson Bumba range where he will focus on replacing Shonkhor's collar and hopefully catching a female leopard. Given our capture history (5 males have collars on today); it is no exaggeration to say that catching a female will be more than welcome!
Below is the latest GPS map uplink from SLT. “The new collared cat (in blue) is truckin!!” said Megan Sanders when she saw the map.
We are hoping to get updates from Jennifer bi-monthly after April and we will keep you updated as we hear news from SLT. Stay tuned!