Survey snaps success of thriving snow leopard population in Bhutan
There are around 4,500 to 7,500 snow leopards remaining in the wild, according to WWF. Bhutan’s newest national park have astonishingly discovered the rise of the snow leopards with footage showing a sub-adult specimen scent-marking its territory around rocky mountain walls. Hunting in the heavily vegetated area for their main food source, the blue sheep, the footage also showed positive signs of progress for the Tibetan Wolf, the threatened Himalayan serow, musk deer, wild dogs, red fox, Pika, pheasants and several wild birds.
Determined to find how many snow leopards there are, the survey concluded that resident snow leopards are healthy and increasing in Bhutan’s conservation park.
Due to climate change, the habitat range has reduced for snow leopards. Their typical range of living is near where tree lines stop and where snow lines begin. As rising temperatures warms the earth, snow lines are receding, which forces snow leopards to go on higher grounds and adapt to harsher conditions to hunt for food. Other aspects of threats include poaching and expanding farm lands.
The first ever wildlife survey has been hailed a success with over 10,000 images captured with motion cameras at hot spots where these endangered majestic creatures roam.
“The findings are phenomenal as these are the first snow leopard images recorded in Wangchuck Centennial Park,” said WWF’s Dr. Rinjan Shrestha, who led the survey team. “It suggests that the network of protected areas and corridors is helping to link local snow leopard populations, which will be invaluable to ensure long-term persistence of snow leopards in the region.”
Since the opening of the Wangchuck Centennial Park in 2008, the government of Bhutan and WWF have been working closely together, surveying and finding solutions to tackle conservation challenges. Bhutan is the only country on Earth where the habitat of snow leopards and even tigers are safe from the threat of extinction. More than half of Bhutan is now under protection.
As wildlife and biodiversity loss increases, this amazing example can be used as a case study to understand how to open up more parks and protect animals on the brink of extinction. Expanding the network and opening more gates for collaboration with local governments, this is tremendous news for the protection of endangered animals.