A recent study has revealed that there are 51snow leopards in two national parks and three other conservation areas in Nepal.
The study was conducted by a team deployed from the Center for Molecular Dynamics, Nepal with financial support from Hario Ban program of World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal and Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. It had taken almost a year to complete the field research in various conservation areas.
To the surprise of the locals of Langtang area, a pair of snow leopard was found inside Langtang National Park. Before the report came out, locals and experts were under the belief that there was not a single snow leopard in the park area. A pair was reported in Sagarmatha National Park, seven in Manaslu Conservation Area, 17 in Annapurna Conservation Area and 23 others in Kanchanjunga Conservation Area.
Methods like micro satellite, geno-typical technology along with DNA and lab testing of feces were used in tracing and counting snow leopards.
“It´s delightful to see that the research was conducted without obstructing the natural habitat of these wild cats. High- end technology and scientific methodology have been used in the research,” said Deputy Conservation Officer at Langtang National Park, Ramdev Chaudhary.
SCAT or lab testing of feces of the wild animals had helped the researchers to produce prominent findings. DNA testing was key in finding out whether the feces belonged to snow leopard or not. The test can even show whether the animal is male or female.
Out of 279 feces samples collected from five different conservation areas, lab tests had proved that 198 samples were of snow leopards. The study report has stated that nine of the samples were collected from Langtang National Park, nine from Sagarmatha National Park, 85 from Kanchanjunga Conservation Area, 62 from Annapurna Conservation Area and 34 from Manaslu Conservation Area.
“Before our finding, locals believed that there was no snow leopard in Langtang area. This research has wiped out this misconception making them proud to be living with these beautiful creatures for years now,” said Managing Director at Buffer Zone Area of Langtang National Park, Gautam Poudel.
These endangered wild cats are found only in 12 countries. National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act 2029 has placed snow leopards under the list of other endangered wild animal found in Nepal.