Photos of Adorable Manul, The Pallas's Cat in Mongolia
In collaboration with World Wildlife Day March 3, the Ayan Travel team has decided to share with you the photos of the adorable Pallas's cat (Otocolobus manul) known as Manul, in its wild habitat, captured by Mongolian photographer Batzaya Choijiljav.
Surprisingly, most people don’t know well that Pallas’s cat shares their mountain habitat with its near-big cousin Snow leopards. if you are a photographer, planning a wildlife photo trip to Mongolia for Snow leopards, you can capture these amazing wild cats on the same trip in Mongolia. This adorable flat-faced and furry wild cat is very little known compared to other subspecies of the family Felidae. Maybe you have seen these lovely wild cat's faces featured in many memes and viral videos. Mongolia is one of the few countries you can eyewitness these secretive and solitary wild cats in Central Asia.
Pallas’s cat is similar in size to a domestic cat but it looks much bigger because of its stocky build and its long and thick coat, fluffy tail, and flattened face.
Pallas's Cat - Quick Facts
Name: Pallas's Cat
Mongolian name: Мануул
Scientific name: Otocolobus manul
IUCN Status: Least Concern
Population: Total estimated: 58,000
Location: Central Asia
Habitats: mountains, steppe grasslands that has rocky outcrops., and semi-desert terrain.
Diet: In Mongolia Pallas’s Cat eats a broad range of small mammals (Ochotona, Alticola, Meriones, Lasiopodomys, Cricetulus), insects, birds, reptiles, and carrion.
Body Length: 46-65 cm
Weight: 2.2-4.5 kg
Mating Season: December to March
Lifespan: 8-11.5 years
Pallas's Cat in Mongolia
Although the Manul is found throughout central Asia, its habitat is a very specific and harsh environment. It lives on rocky steppes and stony outcroppings only and is rarely seen in lowland areas. It has been found at altitudes up to 4,800m but only in areas where deep snow does not accumulate. They make their dens in caves, crevices, or burrows dug by other animals.
German naturalist Peter Pallas first described the furry wildcat in 1776. He named the kitty Felis manul. As its scientific name- (Otocolobus manul), the word ‘manul’ comes from the Mongolian language and Otocolobus is Greek for “ugly-eared.”
Pallas’s cat moves slowly but purposefully, concealing itself within its environment and blending into the background.
Pallas's cats are ambush hunters and spend much of their time hunting pikas as mouse hares, murines, ground squirrels, and voles are also eaten, and also small birds, grasshoppers and lizards, and other critters like gerbils, voles, hares, ground squirrels, birds, and young marmots. Pikas typically make up more than 50 percent of the cat's diet.
According to the IUCN Red List, the total population size of the Pallas’s cat is estimated at 15,315 mature individuals. This species’ numbers are decreasing today and it is classified as Near Threatened (NT) on the IUCN Red List.
Photographing the Pallas's cat in Mongolia
Palla’s cats were believed to be primarily nocturnal, but are now being considered crepuscular in nature. Palla's cat is a shy and very antisocial animal. Without the help of an experienced local guide or researcher, it is almost impossible to encounter this rare creature in Mongolia. They have an extraordinary ability to hide within their own habitat. Even their markings and coloration allow them to easily blend with their surroundings which makes it uneasy to spot them without an experienced Mongolian wildlife photo tour agency.
Once we see the startling aspects of its appearance, it becomes clear that the Pallas's cat is in fact rather handsome and adorable.
If you especially wish to see and photograph Pallas's cats in Mongolia with their lovely kittens, it is better to plan your trip to Mongolia between May to August. Because they mate between December and March; the females typically give birth between the end of March and May. Kittens become independent by four to five months, until then they are with their mother. But hope you know the challenges of wildlife photography. You can spend a long time waiting for an animal to come into the spot and then it simply turns around, leaves and that's the end of it. However, these challenges are also part of what makes Mongolian wildlife photography so rewarding.
Finally, this rare creature is listed as a 'near-threatened' species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). One of the main reasons for its decreasing population is the hunting for their fur and organs, which are used in traditional medicines. Moreover, it's one of the least studied cats in the world.
We wish to increase both Mongolian and global awareness about Pallas’s cats and build on the knowledge of their natural history and threats. As we gain knowledge of them, we can love, save and protect them. Today is World Wildlife Day. We hope you #DoOneThing for Palla’s cat can be either sharing this blog with those who don’t know about this rare creature or making your own efforts in its conservation.
The Future of Wildlife is in Our Hands.