Among the mountains and grasslands of Central Asia lives the mysterious and anonymous Pallas cat (Otocolobus manul). The species is found from Iran in the west to China and Mongolia in the east, though quite how many Pallas cats live in this region is largely unknown.
The species is classified on the IUCN Red List as Near Threatened, and Pallas cat numbers are in decline in many places. The species is under threat from habitat destruction, from being caught in traps intended for other species, and from the poisoning of natural prey animals such as rodents and pikas. The Pallas cat is one of the world’s least studied felines, and lack of understanding about the species limits the development of targeted conservation measures.
To address this, and to contribute to their conservation in the wild, in 2015 the Nordens Ark Foundation launched a collaborative venture with the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland and the Snow Leopard Trust. This partnership is an extension of the snow leopard project in Mongolia, where the Snow Leopard Trust and Nordens Ark have been working together since 2010 in a venture that also includes conservation work with the Pallas cat. By making use of the Snow Leopard Trust’s network and logistics in Central Asia, as well as the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland’s expertise in Pallas cats, it will be possible to maximise our efforts and use our resources in a way that benefits both Pallas cats and snow leopards.
The aim of the project is to increase knowledge about the Pallas cat in the wild while developing tools, know-how and strategies that can be employed to further conservation work with the species within its range.
Nordens Ark’s work with the pallas cat is supported by the Segré Foundation.