Agenda interview: Örjan Johansson on discovery of snow leopard cubs

In June this year, Örjan Johansson recorded the first-ever footage of wild snow leopard cubs, in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert. BBC Wildlife Magazine's environment editor, James Fair, interviewed him about this extraordinary footage. 

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In June this year, Örjan Johansson recorded the first-ever footage of wild snow leopard cubs, in Mongolia’s South Gobi Desert. BBC Wildlife Magazine‘s environment editor, James Fair, interviewed him about this extraordinary footage.

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How did you find the cubs?

We caught and collared two adult females last year. Then, towards the end of May, the GPS on their collars indicated that they were restricting their movements to a small area. So we thought that they were about to den and give birth.

What happened next?

Both females disappeared, and we spent 12 days listening to the radio signals from their collars. They were in a small area, but the mountains are full of crevices so it was hard to know exactly where.

How did you work it out?

Approaching a possible den site, we realised from 50m away that one of the females was there. Getting closer, I heard the cubs and I could smell them, too – adults don’t usually smell.

How did you get the footage?

The cats were behind a rock wall 1m high. No one wanted to put their head above the wall, so we attached a video camera to an antenna.

We were really pleased to get the cubs on camera, because it will help us in our efforts to persuade politicians to protect the area.

 

Find out more about the Snow Leopard Trust

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Snow leopards are one of the planet’s most beautiful and most mysterious predators. Luckily there’s a Discover Wildlife feature jam packed full of incredible snow leopard facts for you right here:

9 amazing snow leopard facts

Image © Tambako/Getty

Snow leopardess on a rock