Expensive video camera trap comes in for a battering when it is spotted by a playful snow leopard cub.
Video footage of the ‘mauling’ was picked up on a second camera in Russia’s Altai region as it recorded a pair of rare young snow leopards after a kill.
As one of the cubs grooms itself after the kill, it seems to suddenly spot the camera and decides to give it a licking.
Stretching out a meaty paw, it turns the camera over and starts to tear at it playfully.
The cub stops to carry on with its grooming but then paws it again leaving its lens pointing at the sky.
Not to be outdone, the second cub seems to approach the camera as the footage ends.
Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are listed as Vulnerable on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, with less than 10,000 individuals left in the wild.
Experts say they are notoriously difficult to capture on camera.
Newsflash obtained a statement from the Saylyugemsky National Park saying: “Snow leopard cubs broke a video camera in the Altai and got caught on camera.”
The statement continued: “The second camera recorded the ‘crime’, while the first camera was knocked over by the cub.
“The broken camera was one of the three professional camera traps installed on 1st July in the Altai Mountains, in the Taldura River Valley.
“Recently, the camera captured snow leopard cubs coming out into the clearing.
“One of them approached the camera, sniffed it, knocked it over with its paw, and rolled it on the ground.
“The camera recorded the last blurry frames and turned off.
“But the backup camera, installed opposite, captured everything the cub did.
“The feline vandal’s fur was ruffled, and there were traces of blood visible.
“Probably, the cubs had just finished their meal and were playing at the site of their prey – such behaviour is typical.
“The animals are satiated and playful, and there was a new unfamiliar object in their path.”
The statement also said: “For the first time in Altai, snow leopards breaking a camera were captured not by standard video traps but by a full-format professional camera installed by Ilya Trukhanov, a member of the Board of Trustees and a wildlife photographer, in cooperation with Saylugem National Park employees.
“The camera is protected by a plastic box, equipped with a remote motion sensor, and powered by a car battery.”
Spokesperson Ilya Trukhanov said: “I fell in love with the Altai Mountains, I have visited here many times and photographed landscapes.
“But I wanted to capture the owner of the Altai Mountains – the snow leopard. In December.
“We met with Denis Malikov, the director of Saylugem National Park, and came up with a project to install professional camera traps.
“The first time, a bear broke our camera, and we didn’t get a single frame.
“The second time, we were lucky, and I am happy to get such footage and help Saylugem National Park study the snow leopard.”
Trukhanov added: “Wild animals often break or knock over automatic cameras.
“In Buryatia, a female snow leopard even got the name ‘Vandal of Camera Traps’, as cameras capture bears, wolverines, and snow leopards sniffing, scratching, and marking the photo and video traps.”
Saylugem National Park director Denis Malikov said: “The behaviour of the snow leopard cubs is standard.
“They, like all cats, are very curious. The cubs saw a new object on the trail. Licking and playing with the camera is quite normal.
“However, this snow leopard cub decided to knock over the video camera.
“In Saylugem National Park, we have recorded a professional video for the first time, which will not only help study the behaviour of the animal but also examine the pattern of spots on their fur, which will help in the future to track these snow leopards, distinguishing them from others.”
Malikov added: “In Russia, there are very few professional camera shots of snow leopards.
“For example, a photo of a snow leopard family in Tuva, Sayano-Shushensky Reserve, a female snow leopard captured by Saylugem National Park employee Alexey Kuzhlekov in 2020, a picture by Vyacheslav Zametny, a participant in the ‘In the Footsteps of the Snow Leopard’ volunteer expedition, taken on a professional camera converted into a camera trap in 2022, and so on.”
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