Increased Snow Leopard Population in Himachal Pradesh Delights Conservationists

The snow leopard is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. This large cat is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because the global population is estimated to number less than 5,000 and is expected to decline amidst the rapid climate change.

However, due to the efforts of the state forest department and conservationists, there has been an increase in the snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh. One of the mysterious cats, the snow leopard is also known as the Grey Ghost of Spiti.

Increased Snow Leopard Population in Himachal Pradesh Brings Joy to Conservationists

Owing to the forest department and wildlife conservationists, there has been an increase in snow leopard population in Himachal Pradesh / Image: WWF

The recent sightings of Himachal Pradesh’s state animal in the frozen white wonderland of Spiti Valley have brought joy to wildlife enthusiasts as the population of Panthera uncia inhabiting the rough terrain is expected to have increased.

Recently, a video showed a snow leopard in front of an SUV in Hikkim village, while another recorded the feline at the top of a mountain in Kibber. Both videos were extensively shared on social media.

Although the exact number of snow leopards is not easy to determine given their shy nature, the wildlife wing of the forest department estimates it to be over 100. The wildlife wing and the Nature Conservation Foundation of India, Mysore, surveyed seven hotspots, including Miyar, Thandi, Chandra and Bagha in the upper Spiti region in Lahaul and Spiti district. This team spotted 49 leopards in all.

We followed the landscape adoption approach under which we take care of snow leopards, their prey base and the livelihood of people. The surveys have been encouraging.

Said Savita, principal chief conservator wildlife, while adding that the final survey will be completed by the end of March.

Also Read: Can You Spot the ‘Mountain Ghost’ in These Pictures?

In 2016, an estimate of snow leopard count was conducted by the department, which was not conducted in a scientific manner. The number of big cats was estimated to be 67 at that time.

The frequent sighting of leopards is a good sign. It shows that they live in a healthy environment.

Said Sanjay Kumar Dhiman, a wildlife official who has authored Cats of Himalayas.

The snow leopards are usually found in the rugged terrain at an altitude between 9,800 feet and 17,000 feet. The habitat of big cats ranges from Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Lahaul and Spiti to Pangi in Chamba district of the Himalayan state.

Given the consistent conservation efforts by the state forest department, there is hope for the snow leopard population in the region to further in the future.

Via: Hindustan Times

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