Snow leopards spotted in western Nepal (by SLN member Bikram Shrestha) 2011-11-16 12:20:37

KATHMANDU, Nov. 16 (Xinhua) — Conservationists are elated with the sighting of three snow leopards in lower areas of Mustang district in western Nepal recently, local media reported on Wednesday.

Due to their inherently rare and mysterious character, these critically endangered mammals, scientifically known as Uncia, are often seen by a few people including researchers and conservationists.

“I saw a small number of Himalayan Blue sheep grazing around the grassland near Taprang in Jarkot area on Thursday morning. I waited for a while and moved my eyes around, and suddenly I saw a snow leopard coming towards the pasture from the stream nearby,” said Bikram Shrestha, field biologist and a member of the census team. “I was elated and took numerous pictures of the animal.”

According to Wednesday’s The Kathmandu Post daily, a team of researchers and technical experts are conducting the first ever count of the snow leopards in the country for the past three weeks.

Meanwhile, digital cameras installed in different parts of the mountainous district on Oct. 28 have recorded the sight of two more snow leopards in Taprang area near Muktinath temple and Namuma area in Jomsom. The cameras will be installed in more areas in Mustang by Dec. 15. Snow Leopard Conservancy (SLC), USA for Nepal Snow Leopard Corridor Project and Snow Leopard Scouts in coordination with National Trust for Nature Conservation and Annapurna Conservation Area started the count of the mammal from Mustang.

Experts believe that about 300-500 adult snow leopards survive in the country, particularly in Manang, Mustang, Dolpa and Gorkha districts. Due to habitat loss and increased poaching activities, their number is declining in recent years, said Karna Shah, another member of the research team.

The snow leopard, which lives around 5,000-6,000 meters above sea level, is considered a solitary animal.

Editor: Zhang Xiang