The mythical ‘Grey Ghost’ in wild
As you know, the Snow Leopard, Panthera uncia (Felidae), restricted to the high mountains of Central Asia, is regarded as an Endangered species. In 2008 the total estimated population was 4,080-6,590 specimens. In India, the Hemis High Altitude National Park that extends over 3,350 sq. km in the northernmost district of Ladakh, is considered a reserve with an estimated population of 200-600 snow leopards.
Finding a snow leopard in the wild is often considered to be an absurd dream by most wildlife enthusiasts. Until very recently, the chance to encounter one in the wild even after extreme endeavor was decidedly uncertain. That was mainly due to the high degree of difficulty spotting them in their characteristic rocky terrain and their very low density of occurrence across their entire range.
But that changed when relatively frequent sightings began to be reported in winter by villagers and scientists from the northern parts of Hemis High Altitude National Park.
A survey in march 2014 covering 200 sq km of prime habitat revealed a very high concentration of 9 snow leopards and perhaps more significantly, the surveyed area is contiguous with a vast expanse of excellent habitat having very low anthropogenic pressure and relatively high prey density – surely home to a reasonable number of Snow Leopards.
If you are a wildlife enthusiast and one of your dreams is to observe a snow leopard in the wild, check out this article that tells you how to make it happen. With luck, you could also find other amazing species of wildlife, such as the Bharal (Pseudois nayaur), the Pallas’ cat (Felis manul), the Tibetan argali (Ovis ammon hodgsoni), Himalayan marmots (Marmota bobak), Dholes (Cuon alpinus), and Pikas (Ochotona roylei).
Locality: Hemis National Park, Ladakh, India (February, 2013)
Momma Leopard with her 5 week old cubs - (photos by Jose Cortes III / Asia to Africa Safaris)
GoPro: Feeding Cougars
Shot 100% on GoPro - Feeding cougars from the perspective of the animal caretakers at Big Cat Rescue in Tampa, Florida. You can see how quickly their demeanor can change once food is involved, these cats are wild animals and will never be tamed!
The Cat that Loves Water:
Determined scientists and photographers finally capture images of the rare and elusive fishing cat
by Morgan Heim
WE KNEW OUR INTENTION TO PHOTOGRAPH FISHING CATS in the wilds of Southeast Asia wouldn’t be easily accomplished. Other than National Geographic Society filmmakers Belinda Wright and Stanley Breeden, who took a few pictures of the cats in the 1990s, few people had seen, let alone photographed, the animals in the wild. In fact, since 2003, Thai biologist Passanan Cutter, founder of the Fishing Cat Research and Conservation Project, has observed only one free-roaming cat.
Science knows little about the fishing cat, which embraces a rather unfeline affinity for water. The animal lives in Southeast Asian swamps, where it swims and hunts fish. Weighing up to 30 pounds, it has adapted to its aquatic environment: It has webbed feet, short legs, tiny ears, spotted, almost water-resistant fur and a muscular tail it uses as a rudder.
Jim Sanderson, a member of the IUCN Cat Specialist Group and founder of the Small Cat Conservation Alliance, believes the species numbers no more than 3,000 individuals, scattered mostly throughout Thailand, India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka. Rampant habitat destruction, persecution and the bush-meat trade have caused an estimated decline in the cat’s numbers of more than 50 percent since those photos taken by Breeden and Wright in the 1990s…
(read more: National Wildlife Federation)
photos by Morgan Heim