Saturday, December 21, 2013

Nepal Uses Satellite to Follow the Snow Leopard

A team of scientists and researchers fitting a snow leopard with a collar  to keep track of it, in order to discover how climate change and human encroachment is affecting its natural habitat.

It has been recently reported that wildlife experts in Nepal are tracking the elusive snow leopard by using a collar with a satellite connection to determine how climate change and human encroachment are affecting its habitat. A five-year-old male was captured in a snare trap just a while ago at the foot of Mount Kangchenjunga on the India-Nepal border last month and fitted with the collar which uses a GPS tracking system. Experts stated that climate change is causing a rise in temperatures, forcing snow leopards to move further up the mountain slopes, where prey is limited. In addition, they also face threats from poachers killing them for their extravagant coats and livestock owners who view them as a threat to their animals. Furthermore, the leopards' body parts and bones are used for traditional Asian medicine. The male leopard, which has been fitted with the collar, was named Ghanjenjwenga after a 7,774-meter mountain in northeastern Nepal. The collar is providing scientists with data on the leopard's location and activities every four hours. According to national parks ecologist Maheshwar Dhakal, three more leopards will be fitted with the collar by next year.

It is very beneficial to see what measurements scientists and researchers in Nepal are doing to study the impact of climate change on the snow leopards, which are believed to number at 300 to 500 in Nepal alone. The International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that the global snow leopard population is at 4,080 to 6,590 listing the animal as an "endangered species." The threat of climate change is forcing these magnificent cats to high mountain slopes, which are scarce in prey species making them prone to starvation. Furthermore, the threat of poaching and persecution by local livestock owners adds to the mortality rate. I think that, in addition to studying the affect of climate change, special attention is also required for those two issues. This includes educating the local people living alongside snow leopards about the ecological importance of these cats, and what they can do in order to help save them from poachers. One exemplary possibility would be to be in contact with authorities, and notifying them of any suspected poaching activity in the areas. Most importantly, they should also be educated about the impact and dangers of climate change and how it affects not just the mountain wildlife but also the local communities.

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