Snow leopards are elusive animals. The regions they inhabit are remote and extremely difficult to negotiate, adding to the aura around them. Regular monitoring is key to understanding their occurrences. However, the lack of skilled resources has often posed a challenge to monitoring these beautiful species.
In 2013, the Himachal Pradesh Forest Department (HPFD) along with Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) and the Snow Leopard Trust (SLT) initiated an effort to plug this vital gap. The HPFD along with NCF and SLT, have been actively promoting science-based conservation in Spiti Valley, one of the best-known refuges for snow leopards in India. In November 2013, Dr. Koustubh Sharma, Senior Ecologist at the Snow Leopard Trust conducted training in identifying snow leopard signs and setting up camera traps for a group of 20 members, which included forest guards from the HPFD and some local Spitian youth, who have been supporting conservation activities in the valley.
Following the training, this team set out to place cameras across an area of 1500 sq. km, which they covered in little over a week. Over the next two months, this team monitored these cameras, often braving extreme weather. What follows are a glimpse of the results they achieved.
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Snow leopards are elusive animals. The high-altitude regions they inhabit are remote and extremely difficult to negotiate, adding to the aura around them. Regular monitoring is key to understanding their occurrences.