Discovery Of New Snow Leopard Habitat In India Means That Population Is Increasing

Posted on November 28th 2018

snow leopard 1

Conservationists believe the snow leopard population in India is increasing after discovering their presence along the Sutlej River in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. Snow leopards are amongst the most elusive species on the planet so it was not easy to discover their new habitat. Footage of the snow leopards were captured from camera traps placed in remote areas of the Lippa Asrang Wildlife sanctuary.

Abundance of prey

The discovery of snow leopards for the first time in the sanctuary suggests that there is an abundance of prey for the big cats. The sanctuary is located high in the sky or at an altitude of 4,000 metres above sea level. Whilst that may sound like quite a height, snow leopards prefer to roam at altitudes of between 9,800 to 17,000 feet and they tend to like rugged terrain. Researchers from Himachal Pradesh Forest Department installed camera traps at eight locations in the sanctuary after listening to reports of sightings from shepherds and villagers.

More research needs to be done

A spokesperson for the state forest department says the discovery of snow leopards in the sanctuary now means that research needs to focus on determining whether the species is moving to new areas of habitation. It was only in the last year that the snow leopard’s population in India has increased removing the species from endangered conservation status to vulnerable. Snow leopards are known to roam in various parts of the stare of Himachal Pradesh and have also been spotted in the Great Himalayan National Park.

More studies to take place

A second set of camera traps also managed to capture footage of brown bears at an altitude of 3,200 metres a forest department spokesperson said. Conservationists believe that the new habitat for the bears and the cats is a result of an increase in the number of prey which is primarily wild sheep and goats. Blue sheep are the preferred prey for snow leopards. The forest department has been working with conservation groups to run a conservation programme in the valley. The project now plans to beginning a survey in high altitude areas so that it can conduct a census of the species population in the state.

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