Snow leopard is fighting extinction

From the daily DAWN

CHITRAL, Jan 21: The local population has been educated and made aware of the global importance of the protection of the endangered snow leopard as a result of which people are now much more sensitive about the issue, an official of the Snow Leopard Project (SLP) has said.

Talking to Dawn here on Monday, he maintained that the villagers used to kill the animal by using automatic weapons when it attacked their cattle, but today the situation was quite different. He said that many projects launched to ameliorate the target population had quite positive and encouraging results.

He informed this scribe that a team of SLP would shortly locate the collar of the global positioning system which had dropped from the neck of the snow leopard in the first week of January. He said that installed around the neck of the animal in Nov 2006, the collar was an electronic gadget sending radio signals to the remote system used by the researchers working for protection of the animal.

He said that they had located the collar near Shali Gole but due to heavy snowfall, they could not go further as the gadget was believed to be buried under more than five feet snow. He added that the collar was made to drop after some years to replace its battery.

Mr Jaffar said that the snow leopard was included in the red list of International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) mostly inhabited in eleven countries of Central and South Asia.

He said that the range of habitat of the species was very wide which was about 80,000 square kilomotres and lived in rugged and rough terrains, which made it very difficult to continue the research. He added that extraordinary techniques were used to conduct study on it and with the development of technology, a snow-leopard information management system (SLIMS), had been devised.

He said that global positioning system was part of SLIMS with the help of which animal’s position could be traced any time and the collar attached to its body could send its photograph as and when required.

He said that due to decay of the species at an alarming rate, the SLP had been founded some 25 years ago which worked with the help of the World Wildlife Fund.

He said that under the project, satellite radio collaring of the animal was accomplished in 2006 in Chitral adding, the Chitral Gol National Park and Tushi Game Reserve were its two main habitats while the animal migrated to Afghanistan in the summer season.

The SLP manager said that the animal had come to Chitral some months ago from Afghanistan, adding that it had very low population density in the area and its exact population could not be predicted due to vast range of habitat. He further said that for the first time the snow leopard was photographed in Chitral Gol National Park in 1970s by George Schaller.

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