Presence of Snow Leopard in JSWNP confirmed!

Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home
Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home

September 2017: It is a great moment of pride for Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park (JSWNP) to report to the nation that the presence of one of the most enchanting, yet elusive species, Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) in the park has now been confirmed. This comes just over a week after the IUCN moved the status of Snow Leopard (Panthera uncia) from ‘Endangered’ to ‘Vulnerable’.

The report was made after the JSWNP team, who is currently scanning over the Black Mountain region to retrieve the camera traps installed around two months ago for tiger monitoring, reported to the head office that two of the camera traps had captured snow leopard footages. The capture has been made at a place called Argutsela (before reaching Black Mountain). This is the first time that the park has ever recorded the presence of the species.

It is, however, yet to be confirmed whether the footages in these two cameras are the same snow leopard or of different individuals. It is also yet to be confirmed whether these are already included in the list of 96 individuals recorded by National Snow Leopard Survey or new ones. The team is still in the field and out of reach of any communication network; it will be sometime before they return back to the head office to make the necessary confirmations. Similarly, they have not received the exact altitude and GPS coordinates of the capture site.

It is known that Blue sheep is the main prey species for Snow Leopards; however, since JSWNP has no record of Blue sheep presence, it can only be speculated, for now, that musk deer and goral make the main prey base for Snow Leopards in the park. However, this requires further confirmation by proper research and monitoring.

In the time when the nation has just recently declared to the world the result of its first nationwide Snow Leopard Survey, which is also the first of its kind in the world, it is a great moment of pride for JSWNP as well as for the nation to have discovered additional home range, and most probably additional number of individuals of Snow Leopard in the country. For JSWNP in particular, along with this great pride and happiness also comes additional responsibility and mandate, to take steps towards its conservation. JSWNP stafee now looks forward in taking active participation in efforts towards Snow Leopard conservation.

Reported by: JSWNP

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