Tuesday, 16 July 2013

2 week old snow leopard photographed in den

Researchers Encounter Wild Snow Leopard Cub 
July 2013. An international research team encounters a 2-week-old wild snow leopard cub in its den; a rare glimpse of the first days in the life of these endangered, elusive cats. Before locating the den site, the team had been tracking the cub's mother - and its probable father - with GPS collars for several months as part of the Snow Leopard Trust's pioneer long-term snow leopard study in Mongolia's South Gobi desert.

GPS collars
Finding a wild snow leopard cub in its den is rare and exciting in its own right - the first ever such encounter took place only last year. This most recent discovery could be particularly significant though, as the international team of scientists that found this little cub believes they know not only its mother, a cat called Agnes, but possibly its father as well, a male named Ariun - and they have been following both of these cats with GPS collars for several months.

"Beyond conception, very little is known about the role of snow leopard fathers in the wild," says Gustaf Samelius, a member of the team that encountered the cub. "Being able to monitor both parents of a newborn cub as it grows could yield exciting new insights, says Samelius, who is the Snow Leopard Trust's Assistant Director of Science and a researcher with the Swedish University of Agricultural Sciences (SLU), "So we're eagerly awaiting the results of genetic analysis to see if Ariun is indeed the cub's father."

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