Thursday, November 1, 2012

New Discoveries in the Himalayas

The World Wildlife Fund has set up cameras in the Himalayan kingdom of Bhutan as a way to monitor snow leopards, however the pictures caught on their cameras bring forth a new discovery that they had never imagined. First in January, then again in February and April, the WWF team found photos of the fluffy Pallas’s cat, or manul, in the Wangchuck Centennial Park where other animals such as snow leopard, Tibetan wolf, leopard cat and red fox are also found.
The Pallas’s cat slightly resembles a Persion cat in size as well as facial features. It has hardly evolved over the last 5 million years but has many characteristics such as its thick coat and behavioral traits that make them suitable or the cold deserts of Central Asia. The cat has a unusually flat face with high-set eyes and low-set ears that help it to peer over rocky ledges when searching for prey.
The Pallas’s cat has never been documented here before and typically lives in  some parts of Central Asia, including the Caspian Sea region and Pakistan's Baluchistan province. However the International Union for Conservation of Nature has listed the cat as a near threatened species because it has started vanishing from these areas due to poachers who are after the cat’s fur, fat, and organs which conservationists believe are used in traditional medicines in Mongolia and China.
Looking for the point of view of the Anthropogenic Allee Effect, it seemed like the Pallas’s cat’s future was bleak until now. Maybe Bhutan can serve as a new home for the cats as a way of escaping the poachers. The country is covered in biodiversity hotspots and a quarter of its territory is preserved as national parks.
The discovery of the Pallas’s cat in Bhutan is giving many people courage for the future. Rinjan Shrestha, a conservation scientist with WWF, said in a statement about the new discovery, "This probably indicates a relatively undisturbed habitat, which gives us hope, not only for the Pallas's cat, but also the snow leopard, Tibetan wolf and other threatened species that inhabit the region."

Read more: LiveScience

1 comment:

John Latto said...

I love the camera trap picture. It looks like its been photoshopped. Nice link to lecture too since this is in Bhutan:
Bhutan might be a good place for the cats to take shelter. More than 60 percent of the country is under forest cover, and a quarter of its territory has been designated as national parks or protected areas, with its rugged mountains and valleys considered hotspots for biodiversity.