A fresh Snow Leopard census will commence from June 16, 2015 in the state of Uttarakhand. A senior forest official intimated that this year a new scientific methodology will be utilized to ascertain the population of Snow Leopards in the high altitude areas of the state.
According to the official, the wildlife wing of the State Forest Department shall conduct the census under the supervision of experts from Wildlife Institute of India. The census will be carried out in Nanda Devi Biosphere, Gangotri National Park, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, Valley of Flowers National Park and higher altitude regions of Pithoragarh, Bageshwar and Uttarkashi districts. Special teams will be constituted, each led by an expert from Wildlife Institute of India to trek to high altitude regions to gather information on these elusive Snow Leopard species, told the official. Briefing on the methodology use to determine the population of Snow Leopards, the official said that indirect methods like fecal droppings and scratching will also be considered. Camera traps shall also be installed in strategic locations in order to ascertain the number of these members of the feline family.
Snow Leopard is the rare species in India and it inhabits the alpine and sub-alpine regions (3000m to 4500m). This wild cat is adaptive to cold climate as it has a thick hair coat, sturdy body and small ears that help prevent the emission of heat from the body. The thick long tail is an asset for the Snow Leopard as it helps balancing the animal on rough terrains and also stores fat. These elusive cats feed upon Bharal or Blue Sheep, Hare, Rodent and different species of Birds. According to WWF, there are only 400-700 Snow Leopards left in India, thus there exists a definite need to observe, study and develop ways to help conserve this rare and endangered species in the country.
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