Sunday, August 13, 2006

Snow leopards tracked by monitoring fright of their prey

Saturday 12 August 2006 at 21:19

[A story published on Nature's blog. Talk abstract available afterwards.]

The endangered snow leopard has returned to the valleys around Mount Everest, say wildlife researchers working in Nepal. And how do they know it's back? Because the leopards' traditional prey are terrified. Tracking top predators by spotting the fear they instil in their prey could offer a new way to monitor the conservation status of rare animals, says Som Ale of the University of Illinois-Chicago, who came up with the idea. "We can get clues about their whereabouts from the behaviour of their main prey species," he says. He and his colleague Joel Brown tracked the elusive snow leopard (Uncia uncia) by observing the behaviour of its usual prey, the Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), a relative of wild goats.

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