By Om Astha Rai
How many blue sheep does a snow leopard prey on in three weeks? How much area does a snow leopard cover to hunt its preys in this period?
Conservation officials in Nepal, whose Himalayan range is believed to be home to at least 300 snow leopards, can now answer these questions more easily.
On Wednesday, Dr Maheshwar Dhakal, spokesperson for the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Reserves (DNPWC), answered both questions: an adult snow leopard generally kills two preys and roams in an area of 80 square kilometer in three weeks.
While answering these questions, Dr Dhakal, an ecologist, referred to an analysis of GPS points received from a satellite radio collar strapped around the neck of a snow leopard in Kanchanjunga Conservation Area (KCA).
The snow leopard, which has been named as Ghanjenzunga after a local mountain deity of the people of Kanchanjunga area, was snared, strapped with the radio collar and released in Khambache of Kanchanjunga area on November 25. A team of experts, headed by Dr Dhakal, has been constantly monitoring Ghanjenzunga´s activities since then.
“We receive GPS points from the radio caller fitted with Ghanjenzunga every four hours,” said Dr Dhakal. “This helps us understand patterns of Ghanjenzunga´s activities. Also, we constantly receive degrees of ambient temperature of areas where Ghanjenzunga reaches.”
The analysis of information, especially about GPS points, received so far through the radio collar has revealed that the area covered by Ghanjenzunga in hunting preys, most probably blue sheep, is larger than the area of the Kathmandu Metropolitan City (KMC). Within three weeks, Ghanjenzunga remained stable at two different points, which indicates that it killed two preys in this period.
As conservation officials receive and analyze information about GPS points over the next two years, they will probably be able to understand behavior of snow leopards in general and of Ghanjenzunga in particular more correctly. After two years, the radio collar strapped around Ghanjenzunga´s neck is expected to get snapped automatically.
Conservation officials hope that they might also be able to understand the impact of climate change on the Himalaya glaciers through radio collaring of snow leopards. More....