Camera trap confirms presence of snow leopard in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park
Jammu: The research team of the Jammu and Kashmir Department of wildlife protection has confirmed the presence of snow leopards in Kishtwar High Altitude National Park through camera trap photographs.
The development can help ensure the proper conservation of the endangered species.
The camera traps installed before snowfall in the 2,195.50 square kilometers national park have been retrieved and multiple images of snow leopards have been captured in the frames, Wildlife Warden, Headquarters, Arun Gupta said.
Listed as vulnerable by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the snow leopards are mostly found at an altitude between 3,000 and 4,500 metres and have been sighted in the snow-bound areas of the Kishtwar National Park and its adjoining areas in Jammu region, parts of central and north Kashmir and Ladakh.
In November 2021, the Wildlife Department launched a first-of-its-kind snow leopard population assessment expedition under the snow leopard project of the Union Ministry of Environment with a focus on identifying the landscape housing the species and challenges for their proper conservation.
“In one camera trap frame, three snow leopards have been captured roaming amidst the pristine snow-covered landscapes in Renai catchment of Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, while earlier the department through outsourced scientific study has also captured two individual (one adult and one sub-adult) in a single frame of a camera trap in Nanth Nallah,” Gupta said.
He said the study is part of the snow leopard population assessment and biodiversity documentation of protected areas being carried out by the department.
“The camera trap images showcase the remarkable adaptability of this elusive species, well-suited to thrive in the challenging high altitude environment of Kishtwar national park, which is renowned for its diverse array of flora and fauna, including several rare and endangered species,” he said.
The park encompasses breathtaking alpine meadows, snow-capped peaks, and lush green forests, serving as a vital ecological corridor for many wildlife species.
Expressing his happiness over the sighting of the snow leopards, J&K Chief Wildlife Warden Suresh Kumar Gupta appreciated the efforts of the research team led by Regional Wildlife Warden Kumar M K and Wildlife Warden, Chenab Division Kishtwar, Majid Bashir Mintoo.
“The successful camera trap sighting of the snow leopards is an affirmation of the effectiveness of the park’s conservation strategies, which encompasses habitat protection, anti-poaching initiatives, community engagement, and scientific research,” he said.
The chief wildlife warden said these combined efforts have created a conducive environment for the snow leopard population to flourish within the park’s boundaries and adjoining areas.
“The snow leopard holds immense ecological significance, acting as a keystone species in maintaining the delicate balance of the ecosystem,” he said.
By conserving this apex predator, he said Kishtwar national park also safeguards the diverse range of wildlife that co-exist within its boundaries, including the Himalayan Ibex, Musk Deer, and numerous avian species.
“This sighting of the snow leopard in the Renai area reinforces the importance of protected areas in safeguarding endangered species and underscores the need for collaborative initiatives involving local communities, governments, and conservation organizations,” he said. (With additional inputs from PTI)