Snow leopards aren’t big fans of the spotlight. A conservation group in Mongolia was able to capture unprecedented video inside the den of two snow leopard mothers and their cubs.
Tom McCarthy, executive director of the snow leopard program at Panthera, said:
“We have spent years trying to determine when and where snow leopards give birth, the size of their litters, and the chances a cub has of surviving into adulthood.”
The Christian Science Monitor reports that not much is known about wild Snow Leopards and their cubs. Most of the information researchers have comes from observing the elusive animal in zoos.
Howard Quigley, the executive director of jaguar and cougar programs at Panthera, said:
“Knowledge about the first days and weeks of life is vital to our understanding of how big cat populations work, and how likely it is for a newborn to reach adulthood and contribute to a healthy population. A valid conservation program requires such information, which this new development in snow leopard research provides.”
Panthera, along with the Snow Leopard Trust, discovered the dens in Mongolia’s Tost Mountains. The research team entered the dens when the mothers were away hunting. They weighed the cubs, took photographs, and implanted small microchip ID tags for future identification.
The team was also able to film the elusive snow leopard in its natural habitat.
Less than 10,000 snow leopards remain in the wild, with most estimates in the 4,500 to 7,500 range. In January, a snow leopard was caught on camera in the Wakhan mountains of Tajikistan.