When Mother Says Run

Shanyuan Li's Image

This rare scene of playful Pallas’s cats took six years to capture. Hiding opposite an old marmot hole in which a family of cats had built its lair, Shanyuan waited. Hours of patience were rewarded when three kittens emerged to play while their parent kept a lookout. Upon the sighting of a Tibetan fox nearby, the youngsters were swiftly ushered back inside.

Typically active at dawn and dusk, Pallas’s cats have flat heads, low-set ears and a light colouring, which help conceal them while hunting. Their habitat – mainly the grasslands of China, Mongolia and the Tibetan Plateau – faces disruption from mining and farming. Farmers poisoning rodents depletes the cats’ prey and subjects them to secondary toxicity, causing numbers to decline.

Behind the lens

Shanyuan Li

Shanyuan Li


Shanyuan is an amateur photographer who has been photographing wild animals on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau for nearly a decade. His work has been awarded in international and domestic photo competitions. Thanks to his extensive experience and methods of highland wildlife photography, he has a thorough understanding of the habits, classification and habitat of the area's wild animals.

Image details

  • Canon EOS-1D X Mark II
  • 800mm
  • f5.6 lens  •   1/1250 sec at f11  •   ISO 640  •   Sirui tripod
  • Tianjun, Qinghai, China
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