Nepal uses satellite to track rare snow leopard

December 18, 2013
In this handout photograph released by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Nepal on December 18, a rare snow leopard is seen after being captured and fitted with a satellite collar to track its activites in Nepal on November 25, 2013

Wildlife experts in Nepal are tracking a rare snow leopard by using a collar with a satellite link to discover how climate change and human encroachment are affecting its habitat, officials said Wednesday.

The male cat was captured in a snare at the base of Mount Kangchenjunga on the Nepal-India border last month and fitted with the collar which uses a GPS tracking system.

"This will be a milestone in exploring the impacts of and human activities on the animal's home," said Megh Bahadur Pandey, director general of the parks department.

"The radio collaring of the snow leopard will help us understand its habitat," he said.

Climate change is causing temperatures to rise, meaning must move further up mountain slopes where prey is scarcer and making it tougher for them to find food, experts say.

Snow leopards also face threats from hunters who kill them for their luxuriant spotted coats and livestock owners who see the cats as a threat to their animals.

Snow leopard bones and body parts are also used for traditional Asian medicine.

The five-year-old leopard, which has been fitted with the collar, has been named Ghanjenjwenga after a 7,774-metre (25,505 feet) mountain in northeastern Nepal.

Scientists are receiving data on its location and activities every four hours from the collar.

Globally, the snow leopard population is estimated at 4,080 to 6,590 adults, according to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature, which lists the animal as "endangered".

Experts believe just 300 to 500 adults survive in Nepal. Few claim ever to have seen the solitary so-called "mountain ghost", which lives 5,000 to 6,000 metres (16,500 to 20,000 feet) above sea level.

A team of 10 Nepali and foreign conservationists trekked for five days to reach Kanchenjunga Conservation Area which is home to some snow leopards.

The expedition was carried out with the help of global wildlife organisation WWF.

Three more snow leopards will be fitted with the collar by next year, said Maheshwar Dhakal, a national parks ecologist.

Explore further: Nepal children to track snow leopard

Related Stories

Nepal children to track snow leopard

November 8, 2011

Conservationists in Nepal have enlisted an army of school children to record the movements of the mysterious snow leopard, one of the most elusive predators in the world, a scientist said Tuesday.

Counting cats: The endangered snow leopards of the Himalayas

November 28, 2011

The elusive snow leopard (Panthera uncia) lives high in the mountains across Central Asia. Despite potentially living across 12 countries the actual numbers of this beautiful large cat are largely unknown. It is thought that ...

Never before seen Russian snow leopards caught on camera

December 1, 2011

New WWF camera traps have captured the images of two rare snow leopards in Russia. The photographs  are the first ever taken of snow leopards in Russia's Altai mountains.  WWF camera traps last month also captured ...

Nepal snow leopard threatened by climate change

July 17, 2012

Nepal's elusive snow leopards, thought to number just 500 in the wild, are under threat from warmer and wetter weather in the Himalayas that is reducing their habitat, a new study says.

First snow leopards collared in Afghanistan

July 17, 2012

Two snow leopards were captured, fitted with satellite collars, and released for the first time in Afghanistan by a team of Wildlife Conservation Society conservationists and Afghan veterinarians conducting research during ...

'Yak insurance' plan saving Nepal's snow leopard

December 26, 2012

The remorse felt by Himali Chungda Sherpa after he killed three snow leopard cubs in retaliation for his lost cattle inspired him to set up a scheme to prevent other herders from doing the same.

Recommended for you

A better way to read the genome

October 9, 2015

UConn researchers have sequenced the RNA of the most complicated gene known in nature, using a hand-held sequencer no bigger than a cell phone.

Threat posed by 'pollen thief' bees uncovered

October 9, 2015

A new University of Stirling study has uncovered the secrets of 'pollen thief' bees - which take pollen from flowers but fail to act as effective pollinators - and the threat they pose to certain plant species.

Mapping the protein universe

October 9, 2015

To understand how life works, figure out the proteins first. DNA is the architect of life, but proteins are the workhorses. After proteins are built using DNA blueprints, they are constantly at work breaking down and building ...


Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.