Snow leopards return to Kargil areas

Jammu, November 28 – Tribune India
With peace in the Kargil sector, snow leopards are again seen in the area. Due to the Kargil War in 1999, most of the wildlife species, including snow leopards, had abandoned their habitats in Kargil. However, with the improvement in the situation, a big cat with two cubs had been spotted in the area.

Earlier, locals claimed that they had seen the animal, though there was no evidence of the presence of the big cat, post-Kargil War.

Jigmet Takpa, Regional Wildlife Warden, Ladakh, told The Tribune over the phone that these big cats, having tails as long as their bodies, which had almost abandoned their habitats in Kargil after 1999, had returned to the area.

“Though Leh and Kargil are the best suitable habitats for this endangered specie, the snow leopards were not seen in Kargil during the past few years,” said Takpa.

He added, “Poaching was a major problem. However, it has now been brought under control and the big cats can once again be seen in Kargil.”

Takpa said there were nearly 400 snow leopards in the region comprising Leh and Kargil districts.

“We have one national park and two wildlife sanctuaries here. These animals move about freely in an area of 97,000 sq km,” he said.

Giving further details, Takpa said the Wildlife Department had launched various projects in association with the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and other agencies to save and attract more snow leopards. “The results are very positive. The situation has improved in Leh also, where these big cats can be easily seen,” he said.

Takpa lauded the role of the Army in the return of the snow leopards to Kargil. “The Army has played a major role in controlling poaching, which was the biggest threat to the animal. No one can move freely with a weapon, without the permission of the Army. These animals face no threat from poachers now.”

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