Highlights of ZSI Study on Snow Leopard and its prey

Recently, the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) conducted survey on Snow Leopard, throwing some interesting insights in Snow Leopard and and its prey species.

Highlights of the study include;

  • ZSI study highlights a strong link between habitat use by Snow Leopard and its prey species like blue sheep and Siberian ibex.
  • According to the study, the chances of detecting a snow leopard was high if that site was used by its prey species.
  • In case of prey species, the chances of detection were low when the snow leopard was present and detected.

About Snow Leopard:

Snow Leopard is scientifically called as Panthera uncia and also called as the ounce. It has been categorised as ‘Vulnerable’ in IUCN Red list. It is a Schedule-I species of Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Global population of the snow leopard is less than 10,000. The species is threatened by habitat destruction and poaching. It can be found in alpine and subalpine zones at the height of 3,000–4,500 m across Afghanistan, Himalayas and Tibetan Plateau, Mongolia, Siberia, and western China. In India, it is found in Himachal Pradesh, Ladakh, Sikkim and Uttarakhand.

Significance of the Snow Leopards:

Predators like snow leopard help in regulating the population of herbivores at higher latitudes. Thus, it helps in safeguarding grasslands health. If the species is absent for long, it could lead to trophic cascades because then populations of herbivores like blue sheep and Siberian ibex would increase, resulting into depletion of vegetation cover.

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