Pallas’s Cat Project – Update from Nepal

August 14, 2015 § 1 Comment


High up in the snow covered mountains of the Himalayas, in the Manang region of Nepal close to the Tibetan border, is the first of our four Pallas’s cat support projects.

The first images of Pallas’s cats from Nepal only emerged three years ago and due to this, and other reasons surrounding possible sub-speciation and distribution, Nepal  continues to be an area of particular interest.

Ganga and his team in Nepal

Ganga and his team in Nepal

I first made contact with Ganga Ram Regmi, our Nepalese Pallas’s cat field researcher (below in the glasses), two years ago through the Pallas’s cat working group. At the point of first contact Ganga was working with three trail cameras to carry out a baseline survey of the species in Northern Nepal. Although he had yet to photograph one, he was finding signs, and it was clear that he and Pallas’s cat research would benefit from support. The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland (RZSS) has since sent Ganga another five trail cameras, with more support follow later this year.

Ganga setting up a trail camera

Ganga setting up a trail camera

At the start of 2015, I was sent Ganga’s first field report since he had deployed and then later checked cameras he had out late 2014. After putting cameras out in the most challenging winter conditions of Nepal, Ganga and his team were delighted to not only capture one of the first images of Pallas’s cat in the region, but also to capture what is possibly the first video footage of a Pallas’s cat in Nepal. This video footage, captured by Ganga’s team member Tashi R Ghale was not only amazing in its own right, but was filmed at 4,825 metres and is possibly the highest ever record of Pallas’s cat in the world!

Pallas's cat caught on camera

Nepalese Pallas’s cat caught on camera

Imagery and footage captured during this study is not only improving our understanding of Pallas’s cats in Nepal, but showing how support from zoological collections like RZSS can boost the efforts and effectiveness of field researchers like Ganga. There is no doubt that we have a lot to learn about these amazing animals in Nepal and neighbouring countries, but this work is a major step in the right direction.

Some of the other species caught on camera: snow leopard and (below) Himalayan musk deer

Some of the other species caught on camera: snow leopard and (below) Himalayan musk deer

Pallas_Cat_Nepal_Himalayan_Musk_Deer

In a country where very little information on Pallas’s cat is known, Ganga is continuing to asses’ presence using trail cameras, interviews with local Yak herders, recording field signs, foster local people, school pupils and Yak herders in Pallas’s cat awareness and conservation. Ganga and his team’s enthusiasm and dedication to Pallas’s cat research is not only an asset to the long term conservation of the species in Nepal, but an attribute that makes RZSS proud to support his work alongside other European zoological institutions.

Stay tuned to hear about Ganga’s second field report and discover more amazing images and footage from the roof of the world. And join me next month where I will introduce you to Mohammad Farhadinia, our Iranian Pallas’s cat field researcher, to discover the world of Pallas’s cats in their western range.

Until next month!

David Barclay, RZSS Cat Conservation Project Officer

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