Snow leopards spotted in conflict area
Srinagar - Conservationists have caught a pair of rare and reclusive snow leopards on camera wandering a remote, mountain region once ravaged by conflict between India and Pakistan.
Infrared camera traps set up months ago by World Wildlife Fund-India filmed the adult snow leopards in Kargil district just a few kilometres from the heavily militarised Line of Control that runs through the disputed territory of Kashmir.
WWF-India says it is the second photo sighting of endangered snow leopards in Kargil, after one was photographed hunting a herd of Asiatic Ibex in 2009.
The recent sighting has encouraged environmentalists as it suggests the big cats were not scared away from the Kargil mountains by the 1999 India-Pakistan conflict that killed hundreds of soldiers on both sides before a cease-fire was established with US mediation.
Snow leopards are considered the most endangered of big cats and face threats from poaching and habitat loss in Afghanistan through northern India and Mongolia.
They are difficult to study, living in regions of extreme cold and harsh terrain. It is believed there are between 4 000 and 6 500 left in the wild in the Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Siberia, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.