Saving Snow Leopards


A snow leopard in the Himalayas eating its prey. Credit Madhu Chetri

The New York Times’ always-appreciated Science section, once a Tuesday feature, has been joined by many features made possible by the wonders of modern technology, and the news organization has also responded creatively to the competition made possible by all that wondrous technology. This article by Nicholas St. Fleur is a good example of why we check in on the Trilobites feature of the website daily:

How Do You Save Snow Leopards? First, Gather Their Droppings

If the cat gets stuck in a pen, the inevitable tends to occur. “There is a high chance the herders will kill it in retaliation,” he said.

Dr. Chetri and his team are studying conflicts between humans and snow leopards in areas of Nepal in order to find ways to mitigate them. That’s why they spent more than 150 days in the Central Himalayas sniffing out snow leopard scat. Embedded in the excrement were clues to decoding the cat’s diet and determining how often it ate livestock, which could one day guide conservation strategies to reduce contact between snow leopards and farm animals. They published their findings Wednesday in the journal PLOS One.

In addition to collecting snow leopard feces, the team also scooped up wolf droppings. Himalayan wolves are not nearly as threatened as their feline counterparts, but they are also an elusive mountain predator that meddles with livestock.

Read the whole story here.

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