Wild Snow Leopard Mother and Cubs

There are only a few thousand snow leopards left in the wild, and they are extremely reclusive, living in the mountains and hunting only at dawn and dusk. Now, for the first time time, we have video footage of a snow leopard mother and cubs in their natural habitat. A team of researchers from the Snow Leopard Trust and Panthera found the den by attaching GPS units to snow leopards four years ago. Imagine that job! The leopards' movements clued them in that it was time to give birth, high in the Tost Mountains of Mongolia.
“As we stood outside the den we could hear the cub and smell the cats but not see anything inside the den,” said Panthera scientist Orjan Johansson. He and colleagues acted quickly, taping a camera to their antenna pole and extending it over the ledge blocking the den entrance. The footage captured shows a female leopard looking up at the camera, keeping a protective paw over her cub.

At the second den—a narrow crack in a cliff wall—the scientists discovered that the mother was away hunting, leaving her two male cubs unattended, seen below. “This was an unprecedented opportunity,” said Rutherford. “We wanted to be as careful as possible and only take the most pressing data.” The team quickly weighed, measured, photographed and collected hair samples from the cubs, which allowed genetic testing that confirmed sex and other information. More pictures of the cubs are available at Panthera’s photo gallery.

See two short videos at Surprising Science. Link

(Image credit: Panthera/Snow Leopard Trust)

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