Sunday, February 21, 2016

Mongolia 2014
Wildlife Protection 2014 - Pallas’s cat - Otocolobus manul

5th coin of WILDLIFE PROTECTION series.

OTOCOLOBUS MANUL is the fifth instalment of the award winning Wildlife Protection series issued by Mongolia shows the charming Manul. The silver coin is traditionally minted in antique finish, high relief and features two dark green SWAROVSKI ELEMENTS representing the cat’s gleaming eyes.

The Manul, also known as Pallas’s cat (Otocolobus manul), is a small, unique, and little-known wild cat inhabiting the Central Asian steppes. Harsh, wind-swept, and often featureless landscapes have resulted in special adaptations that allow the Manul to cope with these circumstances.
 The cats are plump and short-legged, albeit no larger than a domestic cat. The ears are short and placed far apart creating a flat-headed appearance. Dense, long fur emphasizes the stout body shape. Even the eyes are unusual among cats, always maintaining a round shape. Manuls therefore, lack the characteristic slotted “cat-eyes”.
Like most small cat species, Manuls live solitary lives. The days are spent in burrows or small caves. Come nightfall however, Pallas’ cats leave their dens and hunt the grassy fields for gerbils, pikas, other rodents and small birds. Natural predators, such as eagles and large carnivorous mammals occasionally prey on Manuls. Unfortunately however hunters and poachers represent the biggest threat to this amiable feline.

Pallas's cats are native to the steppe regions of Central Asia, where they inhabit elevations of up to 5,050 m (16,570 ft) in the Tibetan Plateau. They inhabit Mongolia, Tajikistan, Kyrgyzstan, Pakistan, Kazakhstan, Kashmir, and occur across much of western China. They are also found in the Transbaikal regions of Russia, and less frequently in the Altai, Tyva, and Buryatia Republics. In 1997, they were reported for the first time as being present in the eastern Sayan Mountains.

Until the early 1970s, only two Pallas's cats were recorded in the Transcaucasus, both encountered near the Araks River in southeastern Armenia, but no records existed from Azerbaijan. Populations in the Caspian Sea region, in Afghanistan and Pakistan, are thought to be declining and becoming increasingly isolated.

In 2008, an individual was camera-trapped in Iran's Khojir National Park for the first time. In 2012, Pallas' cats were recorded by camera traps in Bhutan's Wangchuck Centennial Park. This is the first report of Pallas' cat occurring in the Eastern Himalayas.

In December 2012 and December 2013, Pallas' cats were recorded for the first time in Nepal, viz in the Annapurna Conservation Area above 4,200 m (13,800 ft) altitude.