SRINAGAR: Amid the ongoing population assessment of snow leopards in Jammu & Kashmir, the elusive animal has been officially documented in Kishtwar for the first time through a “camera trap” sighting, according to an official on Tuesday.
Dr M K Kumar, the Regional Wildlife Warden Jammu, said that despite being aware of the presence of snow leopards in the area, they captured the sight of the animal for the first time on three occasions through a camera trap. He added that on the first occasion, two snow leopards were spotted in a single frame, and on the second and third occasions, one was present.
Dr Kumar explained that J&K is part of the nationwide population assessment for snow leopards, and the assessment of the population of the animal is taken up through a multi-layered approach, which includes the assessment of habitats through questionnaires and landscape patterns. He further added that the population assessment of the animal started in 2021-22, and before drawing any conclusion, they would require one full winter and summer to make any valuations.
Dr Kumar said that currently, they cannot speculate on the population of snow leopards, as they are in the mid-process of documentation, and this process involves not only camera trapping but also multiple computer-based programming and parameters.
He further mentioned that as the snow leopard was sighted on camera in Kashmir in the upper reaches of the Baltal-Zojila area last year in November, there is high potential for the presence of snow leopards in the Tatakuti landscape in Poonch-Rajouri are. However, they have not done any research in that particular area.
It is pertinent to mention that in 2021, the wildlife protection authorities in Jammu & Kashmir started a population census of snow leopards as part of the nationwide population assessment of the elusive species. The census was carried out on the directions of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC). (KNO)