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Snow Leopard captured on camera

Feb 16 2012

Picture Courtesy: WWF/MoAF

One of the most elusive and rare animals in the world- a Snow Leopard has been captured on camera for the first time in Wangchuck Centennial Park. This is the 2nd National Park after Jigme Dorji National Park captured the presence of this endangered cat. One of the video clips shows one adult snow leopard marking its territory. The clips also show that there are other animals in the area.

Tibetan wolf, threatened Himalayan serow, musk deer, and blue sheep among others were also caught on camera.

According to the Minister for Agriculture and Forests, Dr. Pema Gyamtsho the camera trap evidence shows the richness of wildlife thriving in Wangchuck Centennial Park.“With the establishment of Wangchuck Centennial Park it provides the linkage between the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck Park in the west and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in East. So it also shows the purpose for establishing of Wangchuck centennial Park is working. And it will provide a safe haven and passage for the rare and endangered species like the snow leopard.

Over 10,000 pictures of snow leopards were captured last October and November by four cameras. According to Conservation Director of World Wildlife Fund, Vigay Moktan, they counted more than 630 different animals from the Park.

“We also try to look at the sex and the sex structure and we found out that male and female ratio is almost one is to one. We also try to find out under the structure the young and the adult, so it was about 75 young per 100 female,” he said.

The Conservation Director also said that the density of blue sheep was 1.8 animals per square kilometre. “That is quite low. We don’t know why the density is low but our assumption is that maybe there is a predation pressure because from the same location where three main predators, they have an over lapping habitat, snow leopard is there and then Tibetan wolf and also wild dog.”

Conservationists say warming at higher altitudes in the Himalayas is occurring three times the global average.  Therefore, under a high emissions scenario, about 30 percent of their range could be lost.

Listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Snow Leopard population is suspected to have declined by at least 20 percent in the last 16 years due to habitat loss and loss of prey.  There are an estimated 4,500 to 7,500 Snow Leopard in the world.

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