Thanks to the Environmental Graduates in Himalaya for alerting us to this piece of news in Issue 259 of the Headlines Himalaya newsletter.
A three-year study carried out by SLN member Som Ale in Annapurna Conservation Area has confirmed the presence of five endangered snow leopards at Bhashu, Namu, Lupra and Muktinath Temple areas, and in the vicinity of Tilicho lake and Thorang La pass. The study team also estimated that there are around 300 snow leopards in Nepal and stressed the need for launching conservation campaigns.
By DILIP POUDEL
BAGLUNG, July 1: As many as five endangered snow leopards have been spotted in the mountain district of Mustang. A three-year study carried out in the district by wildlife experts has confirmed the presence of the rare animal.
Locals believed that there were snow leopards in the mountains and this has now been confirmed, said wildlife experts involved in the study.
Annuparna Conservation Area Project (ACAP) in collaboration with several organizations including Snowland Conservation, conducted the study under the leadership of snow leopard expert Som Ale from 2011.
The study team had fixed nine trapping cameras in the mountains to track the rare wildlife species.
In the course of the study in the past three years, five snow leopards were spotted in an area of 1,000 square kilometers in the district, said Ale. The animals were witnessed at Bhashu, Namu, Lupra and Muktinath Temple areas and in the vicinity of Tilicho lake and Thorang La pass. The areas where snow leopards were spotted are in the altitude between 3,000 meters and 5,000 meters.
“Of the total nine cameras that were installed, one was stolen while one broke down during our survey. Despite the problem, we were able to track five snow leopards,” he said. With the end of the study, the wildlife experts stressed the need for launching conservation campaigns in the highlands of the district for protecting the rare animals. “Their numbers can be increased if the locals take initiatives to conserve teh animals and their habitat,” Ale said.
He said that the animals could draw foreign tourists in large numbers and the country could earn a lot if the government worked toward conserving the animals and increasing their numbers. Also, the inflow of tourists to the district could uplift the economic condition of the locals.
Meanwhile, ACAP officials said they are working to mobilize students to raise awareness among the locals on conservation of the animal.
The study team also estimated that there are around 300 snow leopards in Nepal.