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Mount Everest Home To Rare Cat Breed, Reveals New Report

By: Buzz Staff

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Last Updated: January 27, 2023, 15:35 IST

Delhi, India

Pallas’s Cats roamed Mt. Everest undetected until 2019. 
(Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)

Pallas’s Cats roamed Mt. Everest undetected until 2019. (Photo Credit: Julie Larsen Maher/WCS)

The Pallas’s Cats have been running around Mount Everest undetected. Scientists have now found them in Sagarmatha National Park.

A team of scientists have found a rare breed of cats living on the world’s highest peak, Mt. Everest. The Pallas’ cats, also known as manuls, have somehow lived on Mount Everest, undetected until 2019. In a new paper published in Cat News, scientists have presented the first report of Pallas’s cat Otocolobus manul in eastern Nepal. These felines were found within Sagarmatha National Park, Mount Everest Region. The findings were based on genetic evidence from scat samples. The DNA metabarcoding analysis from the collected samples found that there are at least two cats living in the area. The samples were collected from two locations 6 kilometres apart. One at a 5,110-meter elevation and another at a 5,190-meter elevation. With these new findings, scientists are able to uncover that the Pallas’s cat does exist in eastern Nepal. They have now been added to the list of known mammal species in Sagarmatha National Park.

“It is phenomenal to discover proof of this rare and remarkable species at the top of the world,” Dr Tracie Seimon of Wildlife Conservation Society’s Zoological Health Program said, reported WCSNewsroom. She also added, “The nearly four-week journey was extremely rewarding not just for our team but for the larger scientific community. The discovery of Pallas’s cat on Everest illuminates the rich biodiversity of this remote high-alpine ecosystem and extends the known range of this species to eastern Nepal.”

Dr Anton Seimon, National Geographic Explorer and co-author of the paper stated, “This is a unique discovery not only in terms of science but also conservation as this population of Pallas’s cat is legally protected under CITES (the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora).” He added, “We hope that the confirmation of this new charismatic species will raise awareness of and education about the diversity of species at this iconic World Heritage Site.”

This first-of-its-kind finding has been the result of the 2019 National Geographic and Rolex Perpetual Planet Everest Expedition. It was the most comprehensive single scientific expedition to the world’s highest mountain. The expedition team conducted research on the glaciers and alpine environment of the Hindu Kush–Himalaya. The team also installed the two highest weather stations in the world. With the help of these, the team was able to collect the highest ice core ever recorded.

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first published:January 27, 2023, 15:35 IST
last updated:January 27, 2023, 15:35 IST