Scientists have videotaped a mother snow leopard and her cubs in their den in Mongolia’s Tost Mountains - the first time the den site of these notoriously elusive big cats has been both located and filmed
Wild cat conservation organization Panthera worked with the Snow Leopard Trust to find possible den sites, constructing partiallyhuman-made homes for the elusive cats.
The dens were closely monitered by scientists, in the hope that scientists could record snow leopard behavior and add to our currently limited knowledge of their reproductive habits.
To the researcher’s delight, two of the dens have been occupied by snow leopard mothers and their cubs.
Scientists managed to shoot video of mother and cubs using a camera mounted to a (presumably quite long) pole. Researchers have also been able to weigh, photograph, and microchip the wild cubs while their mothers are away hunting.
“Knowledge about the first days and weeks of life is vital to our understanding of how big cat populations work, and how likely it is for a newborn to reach adulthood and contribute to a healthy population,” commented Dr. Howard Quigley, Panthera’s executive director of jaguar and cougar programs.
"A valid conservation program requires such information, which this new development in snow leopard research provides."
Snow leopards are one of Central Asia’s most iconic and mysterious animals, and relatively little is known about their habits in the wild. Weighing up to 120 pounds, the agile cats have remarkably long, fluffy tails, which they use for balance as they hunt on steep mountain cliffs.