Snow leopard in Gulmarg
There’s big news for snow leopards. A few weeks after the snow leopard was bumped up from the Red List of endangered species by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN), WWF India has found photo evidence of the illusive beast in Arunachal Pradesh. The large cat was found in a survey conducted by WWF India and the state forest department. ALSO READ: 10 endangered animals in India that you should see before they vanish! Also Read - Liquor to Get Expensive in These Three States From Midnight Tonight
The camera that captured the leopard was set up in the Thembang Community Conserved Area. These areas are so categorized because they are managed by the local communities. The photo evidence is big news for a few reasons. For one, it is possibly the first time that a snow leopard was spotted on camera within the state. Also Read - Lockdown 3.0: To Avoid Crowding, Arunachal Pradesh Allows Shops to Open on Rotational Basis
Another reason is that Thembang lies outside the protected Namdapha National Park and Dibang Biosphere Reserve. Only a small part of snow leopard habitat falls within these two reserves, and the presence of the cat outside them shows how important Community Conserved Areas can be. Also Read - 'No Mask, no Fuel': Arunachal Pradesh Implements New Rule to Combat Coronavirus in The State
Two snow leopards in the wild
The survey also included interviews with herders, youth and ex-hunters in these areas, and found that more than 80 percent of them confirmed snow leopards in the area. With these findings, WWF India hopes that the state forest department can form a snow leopard conservation strategy. It said that the survey, which covered the entire state, has shed more light on how snow leopards are spread out across the region, along with the distribution of its prey species. NOW READ: Snow Leopards in India: Here are 5 National Parks in India Where You Can Spot the Rare Mountain Cat
Namdapha National Park, the third-largest national park in the country and the largest Eastern Himalayan protected biodiversity zone, is currently the only place within Arunachal Pradesh where you can explore and spot snow leopards in relatively safe conditions. Of course, you still need to head higher up the expansive lowland evergreen rain forests that make up much of the national park and towards the hills and mountains for a better chance of spotting the rare and magnificent large cat.