Save the Pallas's Cat!

Pallas’s Cat facts

Mongolian Name: Manul
Population estimate: 58000 mature individuals
Distribution: 13 countries ranging from Armenia (westernmost) to Mongolia (easternmost)
Habitat preference: rocky areas
Elevation: 440-5900
Generation length: 3.6 years
Weight: approximatively 3 kg
Project implementation country: Mongolia
Institutes implementing the Project: Wildlife Initiative, Southern Illinois University, Mongolian Academy of Science
Project partners: Manul Working Group - Pallas's Cat International Conservation Alliance
Supporting partners:



Few studies have been conducted on Pallas cat ecology and no rigorous population estimation has ever been conducted for this species in Mongolia. However, estimating the Pallas’s cat population in the country is the main mean to develop species conservation programs. Our team of researchers addressed the first rigorous population estimation in the Central Mongolian steppe, using a Spatial Capture-Recapture analysis on data collected with camera traps. Through an on-the-ground work of local herders we were able to collect data across the year enabling a constant population monitoring and a deep understanding of the species ecology. We aim to extend our work across the country focusing on the Pallas’s cat key areas in order to ensure a viable population in Mongolia.


The main threat to Pallas's cat conservation are livestock, illegal poaching and habitat loss. Livestock presence can result in a negative impact on the Pallas's cat due to exploitation of pastures which causes a reduction of food availability for small mammals such as lagomorphs and rodents, that, in turn, represents an essential trophic resource for the Palla’s cat. In addition, herding dogs and human-killings are one of the major causes of mortality of the Pallas's cats. This species is also hunted for its fur and for a traditional medicine. Moreover, human activities such as the development of mining, are reducing the suitable habitat for this species. Given the aforementioned concerns, conservationists and scientists involved in Pallas's cat conservation agree that more concrete, effective and urgent actions are required to halt these negative trends.


Since we have engaged 12 local herders’ families as field assistants, we give them an alternative income, which could help reducing their livestock production. Moreover, the more camera traps we buy, the more we can increase our study area, which will allow us to make a more robust population estimation at both a regional and national level. This will also allow us to analyze species seasonal activities, which is a precious information for the development of an effective conservation program. For instance, by knowing the Pallas’s cat peak activity hours, we will be able to regulate the use of pastureland, hence avoid the presence of shepherd dogs during those sensitive hours. Finally, radio-collars are essential to map den-sites, thus to protect the Pallas’s cat from shepherd dogs by reducing the exploitation of those areas during weaning and building dog proof-corrals where necessary.

"The natural dynamics of the ecosystem in Mongolia have been ensured over thousands of years by the nomadic traditional lifestyle. Only when we will be able to keep these same conditions, wildlife will be safe."