Scientists for first time have captured images of Snow Leopard using camera trap at Thembang village’s Community Conserved Area (CCA) in West Kameng district of Arunachal Pradesh.
The camera trap study was conducted by World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-India) in collaboration with Arunachal Pradesh Environment and Forest Department to focus on unexplored snow leopard habitats.
This is first evidence of elusive snow leopard in Arunachal Pradesh and also outside protected areas. Arunachal Pradesh is one of 22 priority landscapes of Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program. Only small fraction of snow leopard habitats falls in two protected areas (Dibang Biosphere Reserve and Namdapha National Park) in State. WWF-India scientists are seeking to tap intoknowledge of locals including herders and former hunters to understand current distribution of snow leopards and other mammals in state.
Community Conserved Area (CCA)
In 2004, WWF-India had introduced concept of CCAs in State to empower local communities to become active decision-makers and implement conservation initiatives. Local communities in these CCAs form committees to undertake wildlife monitoring, patrolling and community-based tourism activities.
Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is a large cat native to mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains. It inhabits in alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m. In northern range countries, it is also found at lower elevations.
It is threatened by poaching for their fur, habitat destruction by infrastructure developments and climate change. It mostly feed on wild animals, but also prey on livestock. It usually hunts at dawn and dusk and is able to kill prey up to three times their own weight. It is National Heritage Animal of Pakistan and Afghanistan. In September 2017, International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) had downgraded conservation status of snow leopard to “vulnerable” from “endangered”