WCP cameras trap Snow Leopard
A total of 56 cameras were set up in 28 different stations inside the park areas. The cameras were set up especially in selected trails that were frequented by animals.
The systematic camera trapping was conducted after a successful Snow Leopard prey base survey done earlier this year. The current exercise, besides Snow leopard also caught footage of Asiatic Black Bear, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Tibetan Wolf, Mountain Weasel and Red Fox.
The exercise was conducted to determine the spatial distribution and individual identification of Snow Leopards within the Central Park Range premises.
Besides mammalian species, the camera traps also captured numerous and diverse wildlife and bird species. Monal Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Tibetan Snow Cock, Yellow-billed Chough, and Snow Partridge were also captured.
Park officials said that such studies will help the WCP management to determine the number of individual Snow Leopard within the study area. The team also collected Snow Leopard scats for DNA analysis to identify individual Snow Leopard and to understand the fecal composition of Snow Leopard in WCP.
Officials said presence of such healthy population of the elusive Snow Leopard is a good sign for Bhutan in general and WCP in particular as host for the wide range of faunal species.
The WCP team conducted a similar exercise last year from which they were able to understand behaviors of the Snow Leopard and Tibetan Wolf.
However the team this year was able to study the whole behavior of both animals.
Their study revealed that the blue sheep is the common prey for both snow leopard and Tibetan wolf. The concern for the team was about Tibetan wolf which hunt in pack to defeat snow leopard which hunts alone.
“Earlier the highlanders used to rear sheep in high attitude but these days we can see no more sheep which has led the Tibetan wolf to prey on blue sheep,” said a park official.
The domestic yaks were also identified as prey for the Tibetan Wolf.
The field survey was supported by World Wildlife Fund (WWF).