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Rare Pallas’ cat species trapped in Upper Mustang

A file photo of Pillas cat. Photo: www.felineconservation.org
A file photo of Pillas cat. Photo: www.felineconservation.org

KATHMANDU, Nepal – A rare Pallas’ cat species has been captured on camera for the first time in Nepal in the Himalayan region of Upper Mustang, conservationists claimed.

Otocolobus manul, a native to the grassland and steep regions of Central Asia, was spotted by a camera placed inside the Annapurna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) about a week ago.

The cat belongs to the group of nearly threatened small wild cat species.

“The picture was taken during the night time so it is not so clear. We will confirm the presence of Pallas’ cat only after a thorough investigation,” the ACAP office has said.

Though Nepal has been considered as a potential habitat for this exotic cat, which is about the size of a domestic cat, there was no previous record of its presence in any geographical area in the country.

In 2012, Bhutan recorded the first photographic evidence of this cat species which is found in 15 countries of the Central Asia, including Iran, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, China and Mongolia. The IUCN has listed these cats under threatened category for their dwindling populations due to hunting, habitat loss and decline in prey base.

The cat was named after Peter Simon Pallas, a German zoologist and botanist, who discovered it in 1776. According to a study conducted in Mongolia, these species are between 46 and 65 meters long and weigh between 2.5 to 4.5 kilos with body covered with fur. Similarly, there tails are 21-31 centimetre long and these species are found in the mountain range of 5,050 meters above sea level.

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