February 15, 2012
Snow Leopards Thriving In Bhutan National Park
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A new joint survey by the Government of Bhutan and the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) found that snow leopards are thriving in Bhutan's newest national park.
The scientists have footage of snow leopards scent-marking and running around in a corridor between Jigme Dorji National Park in the West and Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary.
WWF said this is the first pictorial evidence that snow leopards are thriving in Wangchuck Centennial Park.
Field biologists captured over 10,000 images during the camera trap survey in the national park, also seeing footage of Tibetan wolf, wild dog, red fox, blue sheep, Himalayan serow, musk deer, Pika, pheasants and several birds.
“The findings are phenomenal as these are the first snow leopard images recorded in Wangchuck Centennial Park,” WWF´s Dr. Rinjan Shrestha, who led the survey team, said in a press release. “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.”
Experts believe there are between 4,500 to 7,500 of the elusive snow leopards left in the wild, and they are listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.
Climate change could see as much as 30 percent of the animal's range lost, as warming at high elevations in the Himalayas causes tree lines to ascend.
The goal of the biologists was to determine how many snow leopards there are in Wangchuck and where they exist.
“The snow leopard images from the park show the incredible richness of wildlife thriving in Wangchuck Centennial Park and prove why the park must be supported by donor agencies for conservation,” Dr. Pema Gyamtsho, Minister of Agriculture and Forests, Royal Government of Bhutan, said in a press release.
“For snow leopard conservation in Bhutan, Wangchuck Centennial Park acts as the critical linkage between Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary and Jigme Dorji National Park, thereby ensuring the functionality of the northern Bhutan conservation complex.”
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