(AP) SRINAGAR, India – A pair of rare, reclusive snow leopards have been photographed wandering a remote, mountain region once ravaged by conflict between India and Pakistan.
Infrared camera traps set up months ago by World Wildlife Fund-India filmed the adult snow leopards in Kargil district just a few miles from the heavily militarized Line of Control that runs through the disputed territory of Kashmir.
WWF-India says it is the second photo sighting of endangered snow leopards in Kargil, after one was photographed hunting a herd of Asiatic Ibex in 2009.
The recent sighting has encouraged environmentalists as it suggests the big cats were not scared away from the Kargil mountains by the 1999 India-Pakistan conflict that killed hundreds of soldiers on both sides before a cease-fire was established with U.S. mediation.
Snow leopards are considered the most endangered of big cats and face threats from poaching, habitat loss and retaliatory killings by farmers for lost livestock.
They live in regions of extreme cold and harsh terrain and are difficult to study. Between 4,000 and 6,500 are believed left in the wild in the Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Siberia, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.
Knowledge about animal diet can inform conservation strategy, but this information can be difficult to gather. A new DNA-based method, which analyzes genetic material from feces, could be a useful tool, and researchers have shown its utility to characterize the diet of snow leopards in Mongolia.
The full results are reported Feb. 29 in the open access journal PLoS ONE.
Analysis of DNA from 81 fecal samples showed that the leopards ate mostly Siberian ibex, followed by domestic goats and wild sheep. Most of the animals eaten were wild (79 %), with a relatively low proportion of domestic livestock (19.7 %). The authors, led by Pierre Taberlet of Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in France, write that the results help further the understanding of snow leopard feeding, which can help address related conservation and management issues.
LAHORE: The World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan (WWF) on Monday announced winners of the nature carnival that was held on Sunday.
Students of Roots School System (RSS), Model Town were declared winners of the WWF Nature Carnival 2012 for the second year in a row. Rootsians displayed a ground-breaking and inventive project on the theme ‘Habitat Conservation of Endangered Species – Snow Leopard, Dolphin, Green Turtle’, showing the significance of conservation, protection, restoration, and management of fish, wildlife, and native plants. The project also outlined the methods of preservation and restoration of ecosystems.
A panel of judges, including experts on conservation and wildlife, avowed the winners. RSS ED Walid Mushtaq congratulated the winners and RSS management for the triumph and appreciated the steps taken by WWF.