Pallas’s cats, previously only seen in the steppes of Central Asia, have been spotted in Nepal for the first time this winter. Images of the small wild cat – about the size of a domestic house cat – were captured on camera traps set by the Snow Leopard Conservancy to gather data on the larger feline species.
As global warming prompts the upward migration of numerous species into higher latitudes, including alpine rodents such as pikas in the Rocky Mountains, the Pallas’s cat may be following its prey into higher climes as it moves into Nepal.
The cat was such an unusual sighting that when it was discovered on the SLC’s camera traps set above the village of Manang in the Annapurna Conservation Area, program coordinator Bikram Shresthra had no idea what it was. He turned to the Small Cat Conservation Alliance for assistance, which helped identify it as a Pallas’s cat. Read more from his report here.
Till recently, the Pallas’s cat’s habitat has been confined to the grasslands and montane steppe of Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kashmir, western China and the Transbaikal region of Russia. In 2012, camera traps also recorded them in Bhutan for the first time.
The discovery of the Pallas’s cat images in Nepal will surely be of interest to the young people who are part of the Snow Leopard Scouts research program, which sets and monitors the camera traps in the Annapurna region. This community-based snow leopard monitoring project, a joint venture of the SLC and the National Trust for Nature Conservation, is largely carried out by a group of local secondary-school students who are trained in snow leopard ecology and behavior.
Explore the nature and wildlife of Bhutan and Nepal with Natural Habitat Adventures: see our trip here.