Two snow leopards have been spotted in Kargil district of J&K, three years after the Centre launched a project to save the elusive and highly endangered species.
A World Wide Fund for Nature-India field team, led by researcher Aishwarya Maheshwari, identified two adult snow leopards (Panthera uncia) from pictures captured using infrared camera traps set up a few km from the LoC.
"We got more than 500 photographs from two separate captures. I am excited to share this news with the world," Maheshwari - who is in Kargil - was quoted as saying by Ameen Ahmed, senior manager (communications) of WWF-India.
"This is the first time that camera trap pictures of snow leopards have been obtained from Kargil since they were installed by the WWF-India team in 2010," Ahmed added.
Snow leopards have been on the most endangered list of the International Union for Conservation of Nature since 1986.
Ahmed said, of the estimated global snow leopard population of 4,080-6,590, India is believed to have about 200-600 - the highest after China and Mongolia.
According to wildlife groups, the snow leopard population worldwide has dwindled by at least 20% in the last 16 years due to loss of habitat and poaching. Snow leopard pelts command a high price on the international black market.