Rare photo shows endangered snow leopard in the wild

A trap camera took this rare photo of a snow leopard.


By Wildlife Conservation Society

The Wildlife Conservation Society released two photos Thursday of a snow leopard, an endangered cat that lives in the high mountains of Central Asia.These photos were taken by a trap camera in Sast Valley in Afghanistan’s Wakhan Corridor and sent to my colleague Dan Vergano,who wanted to share them with the pet community. Thank you, Dan. We’ll do more on wild cats and wolves in upcoming blogs.

WCS researchers are conducting ongoing wildlife surveys in this remote area with the goal of establishing a protected area. They found this endangered cat willing to strike a pose or two.

Trap cameras are placed in an animal’s habitat and are automatically triggered to go off when an animal goes by, allowing researchers to take photos without being nearby.

Snow leopards are on The World Conservation Union’s Red list of Endangered Species, the same endangered status given to the panda and tiger. Snow leopards are elusive creatures. Sightings are rare, partly because of how well they blend into the landscape. They weigh about 75-120 pounds (roughly seven to eight times the weight of a house cat and one-seventh to one-eighth the size of a tiger). They have large paws that allow them to jump up to 50 feet. More information about the cats and where they roam can be found at the Wildlife Conservation Society and the Snow Leopard Trust websites.

Peter Matthiessen writes about a magical journey he took on foot – what else? – in the rugged mountains of northwest Nepal with a wildlife biologist to look for these near-mythical creatures in The Snow Leopard.


Indian Army’s new goal: research flora and fauna on the high altitudes of Northern Himalayan region

FRONT PAGE | Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Army’s valiant bid to trace Brahma kamal, snow leopard

Durgesh Nandan Jha | New Delhi

For a month beginning next Thursday, a group of soldiers will make a rare attempt in the higher Himalayas to trace the legendary Brahma kamal and the supposedly extinct snow leopard.

The Indian Army has set itself a new goal: To research flora and fauna on the high altitudes of Northern Himalayan region, which is practically out of human reach. A band of 15 soldiers from IV Garhwal Rifles, stationed in New Delhi, will undertake the trip to Gangotri glacier, Nandanvan, Vasuki Tal and the Satopanth peak, among other places, to identify and collect proof of rare species of animals and plants still available in the region. According to Commanding Officer Ajay Kothiyal, the research material would be forwarded to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and its scientists.

“Due to the area’s inaccessibility and extreme weather conditions, there has been little research on the flora and fauna in the Himalayan region. Flowers like the Brahma kamal, blue poppy, snow lotus and some local medicinal plants find mention in books only (written years ago) and so do rare species like the Ibex (snow goat) and snow leopard. We want to make available some recent data on their availability,” said Kothiyal. He said a group of 15 officers and jawans, all of them Garhwalis born and brought up in the region, will start for Gaumukh – at an altitude of 14,000 ft — on Thursday and then climb from Gangotri glacier to Nandanvan to Vasuki Tal to Satopanth and Chaukhambha peaks. “During this expedition, they will photograph and videograph all the rare flora and fauna they come across,” he added.

The rare species found in this region include the snow leopard (Uncia uncia), brown bear (Ursus arctos), musk deer (Moschus chrysogaster), blue sheep or bharal (Pseudois nayaur), Himalayan tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), Himalayan monal (Lophophorus impejanus), Koklass (Pucrasia macrolopha) and Himalayan snowcock (Tetraogallus himalayensis).

“At the intermediate level, I was a student of biology. I even took admission in B Sc programme but left it midway after I got a call from the Army. The mountaineering expedition will give me a chance to learn first-hand about the flora and fauna. I am sure we will do some pioneering work and pave the way for further research,” Praveen Joshi, one of the expedition members excited with the idea, said.

The Indian Army doesn’t have any particular wing for environment-related research. This effort by the Garhwal Rifles, if successful, may give the nation a pioneering idea on researching areas that have got out of reach for the common man and specialists alike. http://www.dailypioneer.com/196760/Army%E2%80%99s-valiant-bid-to-trace-Brahma-kamal-snow-leopard.html