The Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) has launched an impressive campaign to determine how many snow leopards (Panthera uncia) remain in the wild. As part of this effort, they teamed up with local partners to survey Kinnaur – a rugged landscape in the Indian state of Himachal Pradesh. The results were more than satisfying.
The SLT, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Himachal Pradesh Forest Department, and Kinnaur Forest Division worked together to place camera traps throughout the region. They revealed snow leopards, brown bears (Ursus arctos), blue sheep (Pseudois nayaur), leopard cats (Prionailurus bengalensis), jungle cats (Felis chaus), Siberian ibex (Capra sibirica), and more. This indicates a healthy mountain ecosystem, which is becoming increasingly uncommon due to climate change and other threats. As such, this survey’s findings are worth celebrating. They are important for scientific reasons as well.
Around the world, less than 2% of the snow leopard’s range has been systematically surveyed. This makes it extremely difficult to estimate how many of these beautiful cats remain in the wild, and whether or not their global populations are stable. The SLT is trying to fix that by embarking on a five-year venture to assess at least 10% of the snow leopard’s known range. Using rigorous scientific methods, their goal is to be able to paint a more accurate picture of how this species is faring. This, in turn, will make for more effective conservation.
Also, I’m now back in northern California. Ironically, the Himalayas featured prominently during my last two weeks in Belize. I know that doesn’t make sense, but it’s true. Be sure to stay posted to read about this and other adventures I had during my recent trip to Belize.