Swedish team finds 'first' wild snow leopard cubs
Published: 17 Jul 2012 10:17 GMT+02:00
Updated: 17 Jul 2012 10:17 GMT+02:00
Swedish researchers have discovered a den of wild snow leopards in the Mongolian mountains, marking the first time young cubs have been found in their natural habitat.
The discovery was made on the Tost Mountain Range in Mongolia and gives rare and valuable knowledge which is hoped will increase the chances of preserving the endangered cat species
“No one has found and documented the snow leopard cubs in their dens before, even though it’s been attempted since 1982,” said researcher and project leader Örjan Johansson to the TT news agency.
Johansson and his research team found the cubs on June 21st in mountainous terrain that was almost inaccessible.
Since 2008, they have succeeded in tagging 19 snow leopards in Mongolia with GPS trackers, helping the team in following the leopards to their dens.
Very little is known about snow leopards and their life in the wild, but Johansson explains that the new find is already proving fruitful.
“The information is rolling in: what they eat, how often they kill, their territorial habits, how and when they branch out, and more about their social systems. Such information is needed to understand the species and to know what has to be done to save it,” he said.
The next step is to set up 10-15 motion-activated cameras in the mother’s living area to monitor the family, with the hope of revealing when the cubs leave home.
The snow leopard, also known as the Panthera uncia or Uncia uncia is native to the mountain ranges of Central Asia. They have an estimated wild population of 4-7,000, and 600-700 can be found in zoos around the world.