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Pakistan: Rare Photos of Endangered Snow Leopard Captured

Researchers in Hisper glacier, in Pakistan’s Central Karakoram National Park, have captured the presence of at least four Snow leopards on camera. Considered endangered, the magnificent, elusive cat’s presence had never been scientifically confirmed.

Hisper glacier is part of one of the world’s largest glacier systems. Hisper valley and adjacent Hoper valley are thought to have excellent potential as a snow leopard habitat – but it took a brave team of researchers led by Hussain Ali to install 38 remote-sensor cameras along the watershed and in the two main valleys.

Two young snow leopards were curious about the research camera. Photo: SLF Pakistan

Two young Snow Leopards were curious about the research camera

Challenges

This a tremendously strenuous exercise in very challenging conditions. “We’ve had some pretty bad weather at times, with heavy snowfall; and there’s always a risk of rock fall or avalanches,” says Ejaz ur Rehman, a senior member of the research team. Two months on, they took on nature again as they returned to Hisper glacier to recover the cameras.

Setting-up-Camera-Trap

Team sets the camera trap

Rewards

The challenges paid off leaving the team on a high note. “We had snow leopard pictures on 10 cameras, and were able to identify four individuals – the first photo evidence of the cat’s presence in Central Karakoram National Park. We knew that the Hoper and Hisper valleys had tremendous potential for wildlife, and that the rugged terrain offered an ideal habitat for snow leopards,” says Hussain Ali, who led the study. “We’ve also had lots of reports from the local communities about livestock predation in the past, so we wanted to get a better sense of the snow leopard population in the area.”

The national park is the largest protected area of Pakistan, covering over 10,557 sq km in the Central Karakorum mountain range and the highest park all over the world. Its altitudes range from 2,000 m to over 8,000 m and includes K2, the second highest peak in the world. The team also ended up with great wildlife photos of red fox, stone marten, weasels, pikas and cape hares.

The-Research-Team-Camps

The Research Team Camps

Conservation Efforts in the Region

In 2012, the Snow Leopard Foundation Pakistan’s surveys in the area on human-carnivore conflicts identified predation as a problem. The snow leopard shares this habitat with local herder families who depend on their livestock for their livelihood. They can ill afford to lose animals to snow leopard predation – so whenever a cat kills a goat, or a yak, there is a risk of retaliation.

Also, the community reported livestock losses due to diseases. Their vaccination program helped reduce livestock mortality considerably. The intervention also resulted in improved attitudes toward the snow leopard.

“Six or seven years ago, there would often be dead birds, fox, or other scavengers around livestock that had fallen prey to snow leopards or wolves, because community members had poisoned the carcasses to kill the predators. Now, that no longer happens,” Hussain Ali says.

Fast Facts:

Known for its beautiful fur and elusive quality, the snow leopard is found in the rugged mountains of Central Asia, in 12 countries.

Snow leopards are perfectly adapted to the cold, barren landscape of their high-altitude home, but human threats like poaching, retaliation killings, habitat loss make it critical to conserve these magnificent cats.

Despite a range of over 2 million sq km, there are only between 4,000 and 6,500 snow leopards left in the wild.

The cat is listed an endangered on the IUCN Red List

If you’ve spotted an elusive snow leopard, send us a picture at [email protected] to be featured.

The post Pakistan: Rare Photos of Endangered Snow Leopard Captured appeared first on Ecophiles.



This post first appeared on Ecophiles | The Travel Webzine Putting Green Choic, please read the originial post: here

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