Himachal Pradesh will soon have country's first high altitude research centre to study the endangered snow leopards inhabiting the rugged high mountains of the state.
"Central government's has responded positively to the proposal forwarded by the wildlife wing that seeks research centre for Himachal," Sanjeeva Pandey, Chief Wildlife warden confirmed to Hindustan Times.
The wildlife department has proposed to set up high altitude research centre at Kibber plateau jointly National Conservation Foundation, which has researched on the elusive snow leopards.
If the centre gives nod, the Kibber plateau in Spiti will become second place in the world, after Mongolia to have high altitude research centre. Mongolian government had established centre for conducting comprehensive study on the gradual extinction snow leopards. "Comprehensive study on snow leopards will be conducted it includes research on the prey base of snow leopards," said Pandey.
Himachal figures in the list of five states, which has been selected for project snow leopard initiated by the central government for safe guarding the rare feline species found in the Himalayan region. The other four states are Jammu and Kashmir, Arunachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.
The state wildlife department t has already initiated number of the measures to conserve the snow leopards, that inhabit, Barabhangal, Kugti in Bharmour, Pangi in Chamba Parvati Valley and Kibber plateau and Pin valley in Spiti. Snow leopards are also found in the high altitude areas of Kinnaur and Shinmla districts
While there is no record of the rare feline available, the wildlife wing of the forest department collected data on the snow leopards by laying 25 trap cameras to in the Kibber plateau in Spiti, which has been selected for Project Snow leopard.
According to the wildlife officials about 25 cameras with sensors have been fixed in different places to keep track of the snow leopards. About 5 snow leopards were located in 1000 square kilometers in Kibber plateau says the forest officials.
Kibber plateau was identified as one of the area for initiation of Project Snow leopards. The project snow leopards will be extended to the high altitude areas of other district.
About two years ago, snow leopards were identified as a highly endangered species in state compelling the government to initiate various programs for the conservation of species that is categorized as the state animal.
The state wildlife department in collaboration with the NCF took many initiatives to reduce the man animal conflict to protect the endangered snow leopards. Wildlife wing also prepared a mananfement plan in Spiti.
The wildlife officials the exploding population of the stray dogs in the tribal area was posing major threat to the wildlife in areas, which could further result in decreasing the prey base for snow leopards.
Forest officials say that often the stray dogs attack, the Bharal 9 Blue sheep) found in the high altitude areas. Blue sheep is one of the favorite prey for the snow leopards.
The survey conducted by Wildlife wing traced about 400-500 bharals in Spiti valley. Conservationists at the NCF are working on plans to control stray dog population.