In the early morning of September 14, the members of the base camp research team heard the alert as one of their traps had been triggered…
You could almost touch the tension in the car as we were driving towards the trap, since it was Kim’s last day she walked the last part to the trap and soon came back with her thumbs up. Oh, man. That felt so great, especially after all these empty snares and false alarms.
I kind of recognized the snow leopard’s face pattern (he has two arches above his eyes) and was almost sure that it was Longtail. The cat had managed to move the trap several meters away from its previous position and our trap camera was dead. It received a fatal blow during the capture, you can actually see where the canine teeth went in, he really tried to kill the camera.
If you think of it it’s not very strange, the cat we caught was a 44 kg heavy male. He probably considers himself to be pretty cool and he is in the middle of his home range (we think). As he strolls up Snow Leopard Alley [the area where the trap was placed], he suddenly feels the smell of another cats poop on his scrape! So he walks up, sniffs the scat and as just as he is getting in position to erase this ordeal his paw gets caught. But that’s not all. The bastards who did this to him didn’t stop there. No, they put a camera at the trap to take pictures of him in his humiliation and since it is dark that camera uses a red “flash” for the Infra red pictures.
Even if the pictures are of lousy quality we can actually see the nose in one picture and in the next; the canines when Longtail decides that the “flashing” thing must die!
The capture went smoothly and we got all the samples. We collected blood in 10 filter paper strips. Acknowledging that we know little about aging cats, we estimate that Bayartai is approximately 4 years old based on his size and the condition of his teeth.
Mije decided that the cat should be named Bayartai (pronounced Bayr’te) which means “Good bye” and also “everybody happy”. I’m glad that Kim and Namshur were around to catch this cat cause he has fooled us a few times. Oh, he wore his previous name with honor, Longtail’s tail was 1.8 cm longer than Aztai’s!