Ashley Sights His First Snow Leopard

Orjan is a Swedish PhD student who bought a one-way ticket to Mongolia to work at the base camp of our long-term research project.  These are his adventures…

First of all, perfume works great as attractant [the team is trying to catch a female snow leopard since so far they only have collared males]. Downside is that the one I have access to, Boss, seems to work only on foxes. We have had three snares tripped by fox the last four days.

Two of the traps were tripped this morning [false alarms]. It was too far to hike considering the hour (about 2pm) so we took the motorbike. The bike has taken a little beating and I have some bruises and sore limbs but we are both working fine. When Ashley jumped up on the bike he asked how long I had been riding. About ten days I replied, out of some reason he held on to me very tight.

The bike is too weak for two people to ride on it in the long run but we made it fine now. Actually, it is quite weak even for one person going uphill in gravel. I have to use all my arm strength in the gravel to keep the front wheel from sliding away all the time. All in all, I don’t know much about bikes but this one works and it’s a great help.

We hiked the last 2 km and climbed a mountain, as we were about to go around a corner on the top of the mountain I stopped to check the GPS and Ashley took a few more steps, then he flipped around and threw himself behind the cliff saying “Leopard”. On the other side of the corner, about 4-7 meters away was Bayartai (aka Longtail), I presume. I never saw it and Ashley didn’t see if it was collared or not since the leopard was looking at him. He had an Ibex kill nearby and there was very little meat left on it. Very exciting!

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