Pallas’s Cat in Annapurna, Nepal: What We Know Thus Far and What Is to Come
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The Pallas’s cat (Otoclobus manul) has recently been discovered in the Manang valley of Annapurna Conservation Area, Nepal by a citizen scientist and a field biologist of Third Pole Conservancy Mr. Tashi R. Ghale. With camera-trapped images and footage evidence, it has been established that the valley is also inhabited by other predators namely snow leopard (Panthera uncia), Grey wolf (Canis lupus), Golden jackal (Canis aureus), Red fox (Vulpes vulpes), Beech marten (Martin foina) and Mountain weasel (Mustella altaica) besides the Pallas’s cat. The Pallas’s cat has been living in the narrow range within a specialized habitat of south-facing sloped rugged terrain of the Manang valley where the Pikas (Ochotona spp.) are abundant. The major survival threats of this ancient, primitive and elusive small cat in the valley are: habitat degradation, prey-base decline and perhaps diseases and the human-induced climate change which directly affects its sensitive and fragile habitat. Future conservation research should focus on accurate density and population estimation of this cat and its principal prey-base i.e. Pika; and how its habitat-complex has been changing over time. The research on trophic cascades would help to understand how the Pallas’s cat is distributed over time and space as part of the wider carnivore community in the Manang valley.
KeywordsPallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul) Remote mountains Annapurna Hindu Kush-Himalaya (HKH) Camera trap Conservation
Financial and in-kind support for this project were received from The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund (Project #152511008, Project#162512531, Project#172515948 and Project#170517279), Small Wild Cat Conservation Foundation, Pallas’s cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA), The Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and The Rufford Foundation. We are thankful to DNPWC and NTNC-ACAP for granting us research permission to carry out this research. We are grateful to Dr Jim Sanderson and David Barclay for their support and encouragement for this Pallas’s cat research and conservation project in Nepal.
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