A snow leopard has been captured on camera in Uttarakhand’s Gangotri National Park at a height of around 3400 metres indicating that the animals are thriving in the area, officials said.
DB Sharma, the deputy director of the Gangotri National Park, said the footage of the snow leopard was captured by the park’s staff in Sonam area on Sunday.
“The video shows a snow leopard climbing a rocky mountainside in the park. This shows that snow leopards are flourishing in the park and hopefully their numbers have increased,” Sharma said.
“This has brought us some cheer as last week we had lost one snow leopard in the park, whose carcass was spotted by the patrolling staff,” he said.
He was referring to the seven-year-old female snow leopard, who was found dead near the Nelong Valley in the Gangotri National Park on June 9.
A video clip of a snow leopard crossing a road near the Nelong Valley was captured in August last year by an Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) official, who shared it with forest officials. The leopard was sighted at the Naga tri-section point, around 10km ahead of Nelong valley at an altitude of around 4,000 metre.
Four snow leopards, including a pair, were seen on camera traps in Nanda Devi National Park between January to March this year.
Similarly, four snow leopards were caught on camera traps in January by the World Wide Fund For Nature (WWF) in the state’s Gori Valley in Pithoragarh district. WWF, working on community conservation of snow leopards in Gori Valley, had shared the images.
Snow leopard (Panthera uncia) is facing threats due to poaching and habitat destruction. It inhabits the Himalayas at elevations ranging from 3,000 to 4,500 metres. A Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act of India, it is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has made an estimate on the population of snow leopards based on an extrapolation from their habitat quality and their density.
S Sathyakumar, a senior scientist with WII, has said India likely has around 516 snow leopards, with the current estimated distribution of these animals across Himalayan states to be around 86 in Uttarakhand, 90 in Himachal Pradesh, 285 in Jammu and Kashmir, 13 in Sikkim and 42 in Arunachal Pradesh.
Gangotri National Park, established in 1989, is located in Uttarkashi district in the upper catchment of the Bhagirathi River and covers 1,553sqkm area in the altitude ranging 1800 to 7083 metres. Gangotri glacier, the origin of the River Ganga, is also located inside Gangotri National Park.