Cats in Arjin Mountains Reserve, China

A Canadian team has reported snow leopard, Pallasís cat and lynx in the Arjin Mountains Nature Reserve in Xinjiang, western China.

The three man team of J. Butler, P. Chuff and J. Johnson from the University of Alberta and Parks, Canada, declared in a report to IUCN/WWF that the 45,000 km2 reserve in southeastern Xinjiang was "an extremely valuable, incomparable area, which should be recognized as of major importance among protected areas worldwide", and that it should become a Biosphere Reserve.

The team said snow leopard (Panthera uncia) were reported to occur throughout the reserve, wherever there were argali (Ovis ammon), blue sheep (Pseudois nayar) or domestic sheep, but no estimate of numbers could be made. Pallasís or steppe cat (Felis manul) appeared to be most common on mountain slopes where they denned and fed on pikas (Ochotona spp). Distribution and numbers were unclear because of few observations, but there were probably fewer Pallasís cats than foxes. Lynx (Felis lynx) were most common in the far south and west of the reserve, especially near the Achik Lake, but no estimate of numbers could be made.

The team reported that the mountainous reserve, four days drive from Urumchi, with over 100 peaks of over 5,000 metres, was estimated to have as many as 100,000 Tibetan antelope (Panthalops hodgsoni), 10,000 wild ass (Equus hemionus), and significant numbers of wild yak (Bos grunniens) and brown bear (Ursus arctos), as well as the other species mentioned earlier.



Issue 6, Spring 1987