Snow leopards ‘spotted’ frequently in Lahaul

Snow Leopard
Snow Leopard

An extremely endangered species, snow leopard (Uncia uncia or Panthera uncia) has apparently found a safe haven in Lahaul-Spiti, a district in India’s state of Himachal Pradesh. The frequent sightings of the cat in the snow-bound region suggest that the animal is breeding and thriving safely here.

After a snow leopard was captured on a camera trap in Udaipur, quite a few people claimed to have seen the feline near Keylong on Monday (06 March 2017) evening.

A local resident had photographed a snow leopard near Keylong last year. In January 2012, many had seen a snow leopard chasing a pack of ibex near Billing village. Forest officials have also discovered pug marks of snow leopards in the valley.

Before the winter set in, forest department block officer Shiv Kumar had installed two camera traps near Udaipur. Files explored on February 24 revealed a 90-minute video footage of a snow leopard on a hunt. “I have been trying to capture snow leopard since 2010, and have finally managed it. Now, I have a collection of all birds and animals that live in Lahaul. I’m motivating people to protect our precious flora and fauna. My department has always been very supportive of me. I’ll continue to photograph rare birds and animals to study their behaviour,” he said.

As the district has a good population of Himalayan ibex, it is believed that snow leopards find it easy to get their prey. Urgian, a resident of Kibber village in Spiti, said, “A snow leopard died in February, but many more are being sighted frequently. There is no person in our village who has not seen one.”

Many communities here consider ibex and blue sheep auspicious and do not harm them. Snow leopards come to chase them, especially during winters, when its prey descends down the hills in search of food and water.

Lahaul-Spiti deputy commissioner Vivek Bhatia said a person had contacted him on Monday, saying some people travelling in a car from Keylong to Darcha had an encounter with a snow leopard. “I have informed the forest department officials regarding this to avoid man-animal conflict,” he said. (The Times of India)

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