Looking for leopards

It’s been almost a year since project staff collared our first leopard, Michel.

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Since then we have been observing Michel on the camera traps and downloading data from his GPS collar. This picture of a collared Michel was taken at a scratching tree he used.

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The collar was supposed to drop off automatically in September this year however we haven’t seen Michel on any camera traps nor have we received any communication from his collar since mid-March. Two of our assistants, Marion and Noeks, spent a night looking for him with a VHF and a UHF receiver in his territory the other week. Unfortunately they did not have any success. Our recent Earthwatch team also went out and tried to track leopards one night as well.

On Tuesday Katy, Noeks and Oldrich went to the last recorded GPS point we received from Michel’s collar. The point was on a part of the mountain none of us had ever been before. We set out just after the VHF receiver became active in the early afternoon and began hiking all the way up to the top of a steep cliff.

We climbed all the way up to the cliff line by scaling loose rocks and crawling through bushes. We kept trying to radio track along the way but didn’t hear Michel’s collar.

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The views from the top were stunning.

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Later in the afternoon we tried the UHF receiver but unfortunately it didn’t yield anything. We also searched caves and rock crevices for Michel, but no luck.

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We made our way back down again feeling a bit disheartened that we still don’t know where Michel is but at least confident that we have thoroughly searched the last point we received.

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We will try other areas within Michel’s territory over the next few weeks. We are hoping he is alive and well, but it’s a big unknown at the moment. Once we have any information we’ll post an update.

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