Indian snow leopards to get satellite-linked collars

news
23 January 2014

Snow leopards in Himachal Pradesh would soon get satellite- linked collars from the wildlife department of the state government, as part of efforts to gain a deeper understanding of the behavioural traits of the endangered cat, PTI reports.

Satellite collars would be fitted on six snow leopards in the tribal Spiti Valley with the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest having approved a Rs25 lakh project for the study of the rare species, the report said.

According to Devender Chauhan, forest officer and a researcher associated with the snow-leopard conservation project in Spiti valley, the first radio-collar enabled study of snow leopards was conducted in Mongolia's Gobi Altai Mountains.

He added, the radio collars would allow tracking of the snow leopards' movements through global positioning system (GPS) technology.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has categorised snow leopards as an 'Endangered Species'.

However, despite the species being listed as endangered, snow leopard populations are dwindling in all the 12 countries where the animal is found.

With about half the global population of the animal found in three countries, China (2,000-2,500), India (400- 700) and Nepal (300-500) authorities in these countries are discussing the possibility of trans-boundary research projects.

According to Vivek Mohan, additional chief conservator, wildlife department, half a dozen snow leopards would be tagged by global positioning system (GPS) collars and the behaviour of these elusive cats would be observed.

The cats would be observered as they foraged in search of prey, to check whether they got close to human habitations. The entire project is estimated to Rs25 lakh.

A study centre would be established at Kibber village, located around 14,200 ft above the sea level in Spiti valley, a major habitat of snow leopards. It is estimated, the entire state has less than 30 snow leopards.

Business Standard quoted a wildlife official who did not wish to be named as saying, the biggest  challenge for the state's wildlife wing was to actually get hold of the wild animals as they were very shy of humans.





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