Elusive snow leopards thriving in Bhutan

2012-02-14 22:34

Washington - The elusive, endangered snow leopard is apparently thriving in a park in Bhutan, as seen in camera trap images released on Tuesday by the government of Bhutan and World Wildlife Fund.

Over 10 000 pictures of the snow leopards were captured last October and November by four cameras placed in Wangchuck Centennial Park as part of a survey conducted by Bhutan and WWF.

Unaware of the camera, one animal walks up to the lens, while an adult female and a young snow leopard pace a few steps away. Another image shows an adult feline nearly invisible against a stony Himalayan background.

Most significantly, a video clip shows one adult leopard scent-marking its territory, a way to communicate with other snow leopards about gender and breeding status. It also can show there is a resident animal, not one that is just passing through.

That is important, because the snow leopard is threatened by retaliatory killings by herders, habitat lost to farmers and poaching for their spotted pelts. There are an estimated 4 500 to 7 500 in the wild.

The camera trap evidence shows core snow leopard habitat in Wangchuck Centennial Park, which functions as a corridor between Jigme Dorji National Park to the west and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary in the east.

The survey is meant to figure out how many snow leopards are in Wangchuck park and where they are, in order to target the best places for conservation.

Listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, snow leopard populations are suspected to have declined by at least 20% in the last 16 years due to habitat loss and the loss of prey.

Limited oxygen

Their habitat - above the tree line but below the snow line - is a narrow band that is expected to get narrower due to climate change, survey leader Rinjan Shrestha said in a telephone interview.

As trees are able to grow at higher altitudes, snow leopards may be pushed further uphill, but could be constrained by limited oxygen at high altitude.

Warming at high elevations in the Himalayas is occurring at three times the global average. If climate-warming greenhouse emissions continue at a low level, 10% of snow leopard habitat could be lost, WWF said.

Under a high emissions scenario, about 30% of habitat could be vulnerable, Shrestha said.

"Its habitat is relatively narrow in Bhutan compared to other parts of its terrain," Shrestha said from Toronto. "That's why I was not sure we could see many in Bhutan."

The cameras also showed a healthy population of blue sheep, the snow leopard's main prey.

Read more on:    world wildlife fund  |  animals
NEXT ON NEWS24X
SHARE:

Read News24’s Comments Policy

24.com publishes all comments posted on articles provided that they adhere to our Comments Policy. Should you wish to report a comment for editorial review, please do so by clicking the 'Report Comment' button to the right of each comment.

Comment on this story
2 comments
Add your comment
Comment 0 characters remaining
 

Inside News24

 
/News
 

Hottie of the day: Nicole Meyer!

Nicole is the cover girl for the 2014 edition of SA Swimsuit! Check out some smoking hot pics of here here.

 
 

Men24.com

11 things men don’t know about their clothes
Hilarious mortal kombat elevator prank!
This is how the Top Gear presenters spend their £55 million!
Thirty and still single? There’s hope!

Jobs in Cape Town [change area]

Property [change area]

Travel - Look, Book, Go!

Magical Massinga

Spend 5 nights at the gorgeous Massinga Beach Lodge in Mozambique and only pay for 4 from R13 220 per person sharing. Includes return flights, accommodation, transfers and romantic turndown. Book now!

Kalahari.com - shop online today

Save up to 60% on toys!

Don’t miss out on this hot offer, save up to 60% on toys. While stocks last. Shop now!

Festive gifts!

Check out our awesome range of festive gifts to make everyone’s wishes come true. Shop now!

Seen something you like in our catalogue?

Find the perfect gift and save up to R5000 – As seen on the catalogue. Hurry and shop now!

Save up to R2200 on electronics! – As seen in the catalogue

Wishing for tech gadgets this festive? Save up to R2100 on hot tech products at kalahari.com. While stocks last. Shop now!

Up to 35% off books

Save up to 35% on the latest page-turners. While stocks last. Shop now!

OLX Free Classifieds [change area]

Samsung Galaxy s4

Mobile, Cell Phones in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 24

Best bargain in big bay

Real Estate, Houses - Apartments for Sale in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

VW Golf 6, 1.6 Trendline (Excellent condition)

Vehicles, Cars in South Africa, Western Cape, Cape Town. Date October 25

Horoscopes
Aquarius
Aquarius

The Moon has moved into your sign, emphasizing the need to connect things to work together. There is a tendency to focus too far...read more

There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.
 
English
Afrikaans
isiZulu

Hello 

Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.


Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.

Settings

Location Settings

News24 allows you to edit the display of certain components based on a location. If you wish to personalise the page based on your preferences, please select a location for each component and click "Submit" in order for the changes to take affect.








Facebook Sign-In

Hi News addict,

Join the News24 Community to be involved in breaking the news.

Log in with Facebook to comment and personalise news, weather and listings.