(Map Courtesy of SLT/Panthera)
We are happy to announce that the collars worn by Aztai, Khavar and Zaraa continue to work fabulously, uploading up to 80% of the scheduled locations; those of Shonkhor, Tsagaan, Saikhan and Devekh seem to be under-performing. The good news is that Orjan will be returning to the field shortly (he is on holiday), perhaps some time late in August and will work on replacing these collars.
The most exciting set of locations have come understandably from Zaraa (yellow stars), the lone female we have managed to follow so far. She is already covering an area larger than 200 sq km. We don’t know enough yet to say if that is her home range size. She might be using a larger area, a proportion of which is what we seen so far in the past two months! Zaraa has been on feeding sites several times in the past two months, confirming her well being. Interestingly, she has been the first cat we have followed to have ventured in what we call the ‘badlands’, an area we wouldn’t expect for snow leopards. She was in the middle of the badlands for a few hours where we received two locations on 22nd June. Other than this, her collar locations show that she seems to use habitat in the southern edge of the Tost Mountains extensively.
Apart from a recent sortie that Khavar (purple dots) made further south around the 8th of July, he continues to overlap with Aztai’s home range (green dots). The extent of their home range overlap is more than 90%, which is an exciting and informative piece of information. Aztai has been ruling over this territory ever since Bayartai died in the end of 2008. He seems to have reduced the frequency at which he used to make the expeditions outside his home range earlier, indicating perhaps that either he is too busy patrolling or defending it from intruders, or he is content with the resources available within.
Shonkhor’s trademark expeditions (red dots) to Aztai’s home range continue and we are still receiving information from his collar, though intermittently.
Devekh’s collar (blue dots) has been under-performing and we have received only 6 locations from it since May 2010. It is a collar that Orjan will be replacing on a priority when he returns in August. However, from the six locations that have uplinked, we know for sure that he is still roaming between the southern parts of Tost, to the north-eastern rugged mountain range in Toson Bumba, adjoining the Badlands.
Read past Follow the Cats updates to see how the study has unfolded.