The Wanderings of Tsetsen the Snow Leopard

Since this spring, we’ve been following Tsetsen, a male snow leopard in Mongolia’s Tost Mountains, with a GPS collar. He’s the 20th cat we’ve tracked in our ongoing long-term study on the snow leopard’s ecology and behavior. His latest location data reveals just how extensive (and, presumably, exhausting) a snow leopard’s wanderings across its home range can be.

Tsetsen, shortly after being fitted with his GPS collar.
Tsetsen, shortly after being fitted with his GPS collar.

In October and November, Tsetsen covered a distance of 283 km (176 miles) – the distance between Seattle and Camas, or between London and York. Perhaps even more impressively, he climbed up over 7,100 meters (and the same amount back down again) in this time period. This altitudinal gain is equivalent to climbing up and down 2000 stories of an average skyscraper. In other words, climbing up and down the Burj Khalifa, world’s tallest building, 12 times over.

Tsetses's elevation profile for October and November 2015.
Tsetsen’s elevation profile for October and November 2015.

These feats aren’t anything out of the ordinary for Tsetsen, who is a very steady wanderer, and a somewhat predictable cat in many ways. His patrols across his home range follow a pretty repetitive pattern, and the area he uses overlaps almost perfectly with the range another male snow leopard, Ariun, used to keep previously.


  1. He’s beautiful. Confident, relaxed and the master of his territory – the ideal of what every animal should be and have.

  2. Is it possible that his extensive range may have something to do with diminishing prey? That is, he has to roam further and further in search of food?

    1. Hi Denise. It’s certainly a possibility, but there isn’t any reliable data (yet!) on how prey numbers have changed in these parts, so it’s hard to say with certainty. We do believe quite strongly that prey availability has an important influence on snow leopard densities and range sizes. Matt, SLT Communications Manager

  3. I love these animals and was so happy to see this posting on my Facebook today. My special connection to snow leopards goes back 2 generations to my paternal grandfather, Peter Alexander Gribkoff. He was a civil
    engineer based in Siberia in the early 20th century. “Papa” told stories about the land and animals. Thank you for your work!

    1. Thank you so much for your kind words, Cathrine! These stories from your grandfather must have been mesmerizing – he sounds like an amazing man! Best wishes! Matt, SLT Communications Manager

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