The snow leopard is probably the most elusive and rare of the big cat species. Over the last five years the endangered snow leopard has only been spotted eleven times. And now, it has been photographed high in the Kumaon Himalayas, a region it had never been spotted before.
Snow leopards have been known to prowl the areas surrounding the Kumaon Himalayas; however, this is the first time it was seen in the specific area. The photograph of the rare cat gives irrefutable proof that there are at least 11 snow leopards in the state.
The presence of big cats is normal for the Kumaon area. The Royal Bengal Tiger and leopards have been extensively documented by British hunter-conservationist Jim Corbett. However, the sighting on the rare snow leopard is always a treat.
The Hindustan Times reports that the sighting may help the conservation of the animals. Vipul Maurya, who is studying the presence of snow leopards in the region, says the sighting will help conservationists create a strategy concerning the big cats.
“It’s the first photographic evidence of the snow leopard’s presence in Kumaon region. Through the evidence, forest department would be able to prepare better conservation strategy for this endangered species.”
The photo was taken by a trap camera. A trap camera is a stationary camera that is usually set up along game trails and is triggered whenever motion is detected. The camera will snap a picture of whatever set off the motion trigger. In this case, it was the rare sight of a snow leopard.
The endangered cat lives in the mountainous regions of Central Asia. This one was photographed at 4,100 meters above sea level.
It is believed that only 3,500 to 7,500 snow leopard remain in the wild. There are another 600 to 700 snow leopards in captivity. This big cat is extremely endangered, one of the reasons why this rare sighting is making headlines.
Snow leopards aren’t the only endangered species making the news. Recently, Inquisitr reported that 3,800 endangered Philippine forest turtles were found inside a warehouse being stored in a massive shipping crate. Though some turtles did succumb to illness, and others still remain in intensive care, over 3,000 of the rescued turtles have been released back into the wild.
Conservationists are hopeful that this sighting could mean that the snow leopards have a larger range than previously thought. This sighting of the rare big cat will help officials determine the best course of actions for saving the endangered snow leopard species.
[Main image via Uttarakhand Forest Department]