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Title: First photographic record of the snow leopard Panthera uncia in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, Jammu and Kashmir, India

Author: Sanyal, O., Bashir, T., Rana, M., Chandan, P.

Abstract: The snow leopard Panthera uncia is categorized as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List. It is the least well-known of the large felids because of its shy and elusive nature and the inaccessible terrain it inhabits across the mountains of Central and South Asia. We report the first photographic record of the snow leopard in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, India. During our camera-trapping surveys, conducted using a grid-based design, we obtained eight photographs of snow leopards, the first at 3,280 m altitude on 19 September 2022 and subsequent photographs over 3,004-3,878 m altitude. We identified at least four different individuals, establishing the species’ occurrence in Kiyar, Nanth and Renai catchments, with a capture rate of 0.123 ± SE 0.072 captures/100 trap-nights. ghts. We also recorded the presence of snow leopard prey species, including the Siberian ibex Capra sibirica, Himalayan musk deer Moschus leucogaster, long-tailed marmot Marmota caudata and pika Oc
hotona sp., identifying the area as potential snow leopard habitat. Given the location of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, this record is significant for the overall snow leopard conservation landscape in India. We recommend a comprehensive study across the Kishtwar landscape to assess the occupancy, abundance, demography and movement patterns of the snow leopard and its prey. In addition, interactions between the snow leopard and pastoral communities should be assessed to understand the challenges facing the conservation and management of this important high-altitude region.


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