Fateh Veer Singh Guram @ The Hush Post: In what is being seen as a major achievement, the population of snow leopards in the Lahaul and Spiti district of Himachal Pradesh has increased. The population of the species is on the decline across the world. Thus, the positive signs being received from the Kibber wildlife sanctuary of Spiti offer a glimmer of hope for the big cats, which have been listed as ‘Vulnerable’ on the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List. The global population of the big cat species has fallen to below 10,000, with some estimates putting it as low as 4,500.
The revelation from Spiti came after a forest guard captured a picture of a snow leopard mother with her two cubs. The state animal of Himachal Pradesh, is it estimated there are nearly 25-30 snow leopards in Spiti.
S K Kapta, South Zone Chief Conservator of Forests (wildlife) said that the birth of the two cubs shows that the population of the species is on the rise in the region. He said that a project had been launched by the department, in association with the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysore, and the increasing numbers of the leopards indicate that the project is showing positive results.
Snow leopards are an extremely elusive species, and sighting of the animals is a rare feat. Thus, it is difficult to ascertain the exact number of snow leopards in Spiti. This is why the department has now signed an MoU with the Nature Conservation Foundation, which has been asked to do a comprehensive survey. As per the MoU, the Foundation will conduct a survey spread over a span of three years. It will cover the right bank of the Satluj river in the region, and the right and left banks of the Chanderbhaga river in the Lahaul Spiti district.