Tracking the Mountain Ghost: Great Story

A camera trap photo of a wild snow leopard in Mongolia. Mongolia-Web-Cat-15 by SLCF Mongolia / Snow Leopard Trust. Retrieved from https://www.snowleopard.org/photos-and-videos/wild-snow-leopard-gallery/

It has been far too long since I have shared anything snow leopard-related. This morning I opened an email from the Snow Leopard Trust, and it contained a link to a year-old blog post that I had somehow missed. It is a great story, so I had to share it.

The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) is celebrating the 10-year anniversary of their long-term snow leopard (Panthera uncia) study in the Gobi Desert of Mongolia. To mark the occasion, the SLT has been sending out informational tidbits to their supporters all week. They included the link to this awesome story in one of those emails.

The post I keep going on about is called “Tracking the Mountain Ghost.” It was written by snow leopard researcher Dr. Örjan Johansson, who at the time was working on his PhD. He was living in the Gobi, capturing snow leopards to place GPS collars on them, and gathering crucial data about the species’ ecology.

There are a number of reasons I like Dr. Johansson’s post. First, he describes his surroundings remarkably well. One can almost feel the cold of the Gobi as it seeps into his bones, hear the deafening quiet of the moonlit night, and sense Dr. Johansson’s reluctance to leave his warm sleeping bag.

Dr. Johansson enhances these sensory details with a short video that gives viewers a tour of his camp. As you can see below, Johansson’s surroundings are lush and tropical. There is sand, some rocks, and even more sand. His ger also contains every convenience one could ask for: some boxes, two old-looking stoves, a tea kettle, and the odd tranquilizer gun.

Of course, Johansson’s post discusses more than just the opulence of his living quarters. He talks about the importance of the SLT’s long-term study; given that it might result in more data on snow leopards than all previous studies combined. This is crucial, because – as Johansson explains – very little is known about these elusive cats.

What we do know, however, is that snow leopards face many threats. Local herders kill them to protect livestock, mining and other developments are degrading snow leopard habitat, and this unique species of wild felid (cat) is being increasingly poached for traditional Asian medicine. In short, these extraordinary animals need our help.

The Snow Leopard Trust is one of several groups working to protect snow leopards – and to make it easier for local people to coexist with them. I strongly recommend you follow the link below to read Dr. Johansson’s story. While there, why not click around and learn more about the SLT? They are an excellent organization to support.

Click Here to Read Dr. Örjan Johansson’s “Tracking the Mountain Ghost”

23 Thoughts

    1. Haha, I was intentionally being ironic. There’s nothing lush and tropical about the Gobi! And while Dr. Johannson and his team may have many of the basic items they need in their ger, I wouldn’t go so far as to say their accommodations were luxurious. I imagine it’s still quite cold there, and I have no idea how often they get fresh supplies.

      I’m also not sure how all the electronics work. Maybe they have a generator? Good question.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. LOL, Yeah I figured you were being ironic once I saw it, but the inside of the “hut” didn’t look half bad. Colorful and organized. I also wondered if anyone else was currently with him, because I noticed the “cubbies” or organizers over the other beds were empty. Interesting how different people can pick out different things to be curious about. lol

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, technically you’re a lot closer to snow leopard range than I am! Who knows, maybe you’ll make it to the central Asian mountains one day?

      I’m glad my posts have led you to love snow leopards! They are truly incredible animals, and extremely non-aggressive towards people.

      Hi Naila :) I thought it was you :)

      Liked by 1 person

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