Snow Leopard in Spiti Valley
A fascinating and mysterious animal found in nature, the Indian Snow Leopard is generally located at the higher reaches of the Himalayas. But finding them is the trickiest aspect as this shy animal prefers to stay away from any humans. In recent years there has been an increasing number of sighting of the Snow Leopard in Spiti valley of Himachal Pradesh. The most surprising thing is that they’re now being observed in groups.
Facts & Figures About Snow Leopard in Spiti Valley
Snow leopard is a mountain animal that is native Central and South Asia. It is classified as endangered on the IUCN Red List of threatened species. The global population of this species was estimated to be well under 10,000, and is expected to decrease by 10% over the coming 23 years. They typically live in elevations between 3,000m and 4500m above sea level. This “endangered species” is found in the Himalayan ranges of North India.
The Grey Ghost
Spiti Valley is among the top destinations for adventure travelers seeking peace in the natural beauty. For those who travel, Spiti has got another major attraction – the Snow Leopard, also known as the “grey ghost” due to its elusive nature. Over the last several years travelers have been making their way to Spiti Valley hoping to get a glimpse of this exotic animal, however the prediction of their movements are nearly impossible. However, in recent times there have been numerous occasions of snow leopards being seen on the mountains. The chance of seeing snow leopards has been increasing to 50%, which is considered high! Locals have been acting as their guardian angels safeguarding them, and learning how to live together.
Reasons For Snow Leopard Population Decline in Spiti Valley
As of 2016, the worldwide population of the leopard was estimated to range from 3,920 and 6,390. The primary reason for the leopard’s decline in population is the human factor. From poaching to the destruction of the habitat of these animals.
Trade in the body parts of the beautiful animal is the most significant threat to its population. From trade of its skins, organs, and paws these magnificent creatures have endured a lot of suffering by poachers. From 2008 to 2016, it was estimated that on average, one snow leopard was killed each day in illegal trade. The poaching rate for the year was calculated at between 220 – 250 cats annually across the globe.
A shrinking natural habitat:
Snow Leopards live in sub-alpine to alpine climates and constant human interference in their habitat has forced them into shrinking areas. Snow Leopards want larger areas and the destruction of their habitat has led to the decline of their population.
The primary prey of snow Leopards, goats and blue sheep are also suffering from poachers. A decrease in prey populations has led to the decrease of the snow Leopard population.
Changes in the climate:
The Snow Leopards are prevalent in areas of cold and snowy climates, however the danger of global warming is also threatening their existence. The magnificent animals were forced back into the tiny area due to the changes in the weather patterns as well as an increased global temperature.
Increase in Snow Leopard Sightings in Spiti Valley
In the past, it was reported that Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Spiti is home to about 30 large cats. There were numerous cubs that were spotted within this sanctuary, it is thought that they had discovered a safe refuge in Spiti. The authorities also hoped they could locate more snow leopards in the future. The hope has proved to be true since increasing numbers of snow leopards have been spotted throughout the valley. The authorities cite the huge snowfall as the primary reason for the fact that reports of sightings have increased.
The snow’s heavy cover has enabled the animals to lower elevations, increasing their area of habitat. The conservation program has ensured that the animals are protected in this region. With the help of the residents from the community, the officials have been able to protect the animals. This has resulted in an increase in overall population, which gives greater chances of spotting.
Opening Doors to the World’s best Big Cat Adventures
With the rise in sightings, increasing numbers of visitors are coming to Spiti to observe this majestic animal.
The protection of wildlife and the environment has been an advantage for the residents since economic growth is booming within Spiti Valley.