RZSS Pallas’s Cat Project Update

July 10, 2015 § Leave a comment


The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) support and manage several cat conservation and research projects, ranging from sand cats in the Middle East to snow leopards in Mongolia. However, it gives me great pleasure as the newly appointment RZSS Cat Conservation Project Officer to introduce another fascinating project to you – the Pallas’s cat.

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Grey/Himalayan wolf – Taken from the first Nepalese field outing

For the last seven years I have coordinated the Pallas’s cat European Endangered Species Programme (EEP) and, in more recent years, the International Studbook (ISB) too. Aside from education, raising awareness and research, the objective of these captive programmes is to maintain a robust and sustainable ex-situ population to act as a long-term insurance policy for the species.

In addition to this captive safety net population, we must also look to the wild and support conservation and research projects that improve our knowledge of the species and thus help us protect the in-situ populations. In early 2014 I took it upon myself to raise the profile of Pallas’s cats in Zoological collections in an attempt to encourage interest for in-situ field work support projects.

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Golden eagle – Taken from the first Nepalese field outing

Just over one year on, sitting here in my office at RZSS Highland Wildlife Park, it is exciting to reflect that we, and other EEP collections, are currently supporting four different projects throughout the Pallas’s cat range. It is clear to me that there is both interest and support for this smaller, lesser known cat species, even if we have to work harder at it. This, however, is part of our job.

Inhabiting the steppe grasslands and remote mountains of Central Asia, the Pallas’s cat is a unique yet elusive species that few people have heard of, let alone seen. Like its larger cousin the snow leopard (which it shares the majority of its range with), the Pallas’s cat is another “ghost of the mountain”.

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Snow leopard – Taken from the first Nepalese field outing

In order for us to learn more about these cats we have not only provided financial support, but sent motion triggered trail cameras to all four field projects in Nepal, Iran, Mongolia and Kazakhstan. Over the course of the year I will be providing updates on all of these projects and sharing with you some of the amazing images and video footage we have – and will continue to capture – introducing you to each project and giving you an insight into the fauna found throughout these countries.

See you next month.

David Barclay

RZSS Cat Conservation Project Officer

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