IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


30th January, 2023 Environment

Disclaimer: Copyright infringement not intended.

Context:  The first Pallas's cat sighting on Mount Everest, in the Sagarmatha National Park in Nepal, has been documented


  • Well-furred cats from the cold Asian steppes, Pallas’s Cats Otocolobus manulare also called Manul, Steppe Cat or Rock Wildcat.
  • These small cats have a stocky body with thick, soft fur and an abundant dark, woolly underfur which is double the length of that on the rest of the body.
  • The colour varies from a light grey to a yellowish buff and russet, with the white tips of the hair producing a frosted appearance.


  • Manul occur in Central Asia, from the Caspian Sea through Iran, Afghanistan, Pakistan and northern India to central China, Mongolia and southern Russia.


  • Their habitat is characterized by an extreme climate with little rainfall, low humidity and a wide range of temperatures.
  • Their primarily habitat is the steppe grassland regions of Mongolia, China and the Tibetan Plateau.
  • They have been recorded up to 4,800 m in cold, arid habitats of the dry grassland steppes interspersed with stone outcrops, and in stony desert.
  • These little predators prefer valleys and rocky areas where they have some cover, and avoid completely open habitats.
  • They avoid areas of snow cover that exceed 10 cm, and the continuous snow cover of 15-20 cm marks the ecological limit of the species.


  • habitat fragmentation and degradation due to overgrazing by domestic livestock and conversion to arable land
  • predation by herding/domestic dogs
  • mining and infrastructure developments
  • prey depletion due to government sanctioned poisoning campaigns for pikas and other rodents in some areas; overexploitation of picas for food and their fur in other areas
  • hunted for its fur in large numbers
  • demand as exotic pets and used in traditional medicines in Mongolia and Russia
  • depletion of marmots which are commonly hunted.Their burrows are used by the cats to provide shelter, avoid predation, giving birth and raising young


  • Since 2012, the Pallas’s Cat Working Group (PCWG) has existed as a network consisting of around 30 members from range countries as well as international experts.
  • PCWG aims to unite efforts of specialists in Pallas’s cat study and conservation all over its global range.
  • In 2016, the Pallas’s cat International Conservation Alliance (PICA) was founded. PICA is a collaboration between the Royal Zoological Society of Scotland, Nordens Ark Zoo of Sweden and the Snow Leopard Trust, funded by Fondation Segré.
  • The first range-wide Conservation Strategy was developed together with PCWG and published in 2019.