Sunday, 14 June 2015

U’khand to begin count of elusive snow leopards from June 16

TNN | Jun 7, 2015, 11.19 PM IST

DEHRADUN: In a first-time initiative, the Uttarakhand forest department is embarking on an ambitious project to estimate the population of the elusive snow leopard that inhabits the higher reaches of the Himalayas. The project, which is set to begin from June 16, will have several teams from the department trek to the areas where trans-Himalayan big cat has its habitat. These include places like the Gangotri National Park, Nanda Devi Biosphere, Valley of flowers, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, Govind National Park and select high-altitude areas of Bagheshwar, Uttarkashi and Pithoragarh districts. Each team is expected to be led by an expert from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).

Considering that the snow leopard has been sighted very rarely by expeditions specifically mounted to trace it, sources in the forest department acknowledged that sightings of the elusive animals might be bleak. "Besides sightings, we will take records from the camera traps, collect scat samples, droppings and other evidences such as scratching and scrapping for estimation," said Dhananjay Mohan, chief conservator of forests and head of the wild animals estimation. He added that besides snow leopard, the teams would also count Himalayan thar and black and brown bear.

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