Tien Shan: Another snow leopard! (addendum)

We have a bit more to write to you. We know that at this point nearly all of you will have been home for a while, gotten back into your daily routine, and have forgotten what it is like to wake up to frost on your tent!

But we hope to grab your attention and awe once more before the weight of “real life” truly sinks back in. Volodya was recently going through some camera trap photos of where we had a camera knocked over by bulls. [For obvious reasons we are not mentioning exact camera trap locations here, but this particular trap was set by Bek, Kurt, Lothar, Guillaume, Christiana and Tessa on 5 July, and removed by Hubert and Jörg on 20 August]. There were nearly 3000 images of these bulls feeding in front of it in the end, and a couple images of foxes that were immediately recognisable. However, Volodya found a series of images that were late in the evening, that appeared to show something walking in front of the camera, but the exposure levels were way off and it was indistinguishable. After editing the contrast etc., Volodya discovered that prior to the bulls knocking it over, we had a snow leopard walk right in front of the camera on 15 July at 19:50!

The image shows the cat walking to the right of the camera, just like the other image taken in another location, which means we can compare the rosettes and see if it is a separate individual. Likely this could be inferred just from the location that each image was taken, but we’ll let you take a look at the two images side by side. This is your chance for one last bit of citizen science on expedition this summer!

What an amazing extra photo captured! And again, this photo wouldn’t have been possible without all the hard work that each of you put in to the project. So I’d like to once again say thank you for making this season’s expedition the most successful yet!

Do e-mail us your conclusion on whether it’s one or two individuals. Or comment below.

Right-click on images to download them to your computer to see them full size.

3 Replies to “Tien Shan: Another snow leopard! (addendum)”

  1. I believe it is the same Leopard the marking on lower stomach and front leg seem to be identical.

  2. Just a detail (which may be of interest to the group who set up the camera): this camera wasn’t knocked over. It was quite securely set up in the ‘wall’ of the moraine.
    I think those are different individuals — to me, the lower stomach markings seem different.

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