Khashaa and Aztai Climb the Pinnacles

Ph.D. Candiate and field researcher extraordinaire Orjan shares an inside look into the lives of two of our collared cats:

Aztai and KhashaaIn mid-April, Aztai and Khashaa spent three days at the same place. The collar locations were spread out in a line and it seemed as if they had slowly, slowly moved down a steep mountainside. We got curious about what might have happened there, from looking at the computer it didn’t seem like a hunting site but to know for sure we had to go there. The place is a steep canyon side and the locations follow a line of steep (almost vertical) rock formations, almost like pinnacles. They are about 20 m wide and 10-15 m high. On each side of the pinnacles are a field of loose gravel and rocks, very steep and very loose. Most of the locations are on the pinnacles but some are at the base of them. It was not possble to visit all locations, the terrain was just too steep and rugged. However, there were no signs of a hunt and the terrain doesn’t look like anything that I have found kills in previously. Since the two cats were moving down along the pinnacles they would have had to drag their meall with them up and down, which doesn’t make much sense. So the only likely explanation for them to spend so much time together is that they mated. We got a couple locations taken at the same time when the cats’ collars were within 1 m of each other.

I know that mid April is late for a mating but maybe Khashaa mated with Aztai. He seems to be the new dominant male of the area. Aztai sure didn’t wait many days after Tsagaan died before he took over his area. While Tsagaan was our ‘bad boy’, always growling at me and keeping three collared females in his home range that he ventured between and spent at most a day with now and then. Aztai, on the other hand, found a nice cliff with a view all the way to China and spent three days getting to know Khashaa.



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