The altitude does not scare them.
For the first time, two Pallas (or Manuls) cats have taken up residence on Mount Everest, more than 5000 meters high.
According to scientists, they would reside more precisely in the Sagarmatha National Park, in Nepal.
If these two felines have not really been seen, researchers have discovered their presence thanks to the genetic analysis of the traces they have left.
In 2019, a team of scientists took excrement samples.
Researchers found evidence of pika and mountain weasel DNA in the samples, an important food source for Pallas's cat
," the press release details.
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These finds complete the list of known mammals in Sagarmatha National Park, a much-visited and protected World Heritage Site.
This team of researchers had already published part of their findings in the journal
in September 2022, and made this announcement official on January 26.
Rare and endangered species
It is phenomenal to uncover evidence of this rare and remarkable species at the top of the world
," said Dr. Tracie Seimon of the Wildlife Conservation Society's Zoological Health Program in a press release from the nonprofit organization. .
The discovery of Pallas' cat on Everest highlights the rich biodiversity of this remote high mountain ecosystem and extends the known range of this species to eastern Nepal
," continued Dr Tracie Seimon.
Conservation biology researcher and Pallas's cat enthusiast Paige Byerly also welcomed the discovery on Twitter: "
The idea of a Pallas's cat mocking elite climbers behind a rock warms me really the heart
These small wild cats, descendants of the leopard, are distributed in Russia and Central Asia and live mainly on cold and arid rocky lands.
They have a somewhat flattened head and have very small rounded ears, set quite low on either side of their head.
Their spotted coat is long and thick, which allows them to fight the cold in winter.
An essential feature for living on the “Roof of the World”.
Manuls can live in areas where the temperature drops to -50°C.
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However, it is not common to find Pallas cats on Everest.
Indeed, they are an endangered species that is on the red list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
Scientists would only count 50,000 or 60,000 of these cats in the world.
That is to say less than the number of giraffes, for example.
With an average density of four cats per 100 km², this feline remains relatively unknown to researchers.