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Snow leopard sighting in Spiti cheers wildlife enthusiasts

The snow leopard which was spotted at Himachal Pradesh's Chichum village (Pic. Courtesy Ajay Banyal)

Shimla: In the freezing cold deserts of Spiti—a sub-division of a high altitude tribal district, a snow leopard was spotted at village Chichum on Wednesday.

Reports from Spiti said Additional Deputy Commissioner Kaza Abhishek Verma, who himself experienced the sighting of the snow Leopard got the movements of the big cat captured in the camera successfully, along with his team member Ajay Banyal, a wildlife enthusiast.

Banyal is Assistant Public Relations Officer posted at Kaza for the past some years.

Banyal told India Narrative over phone from Kaza that this was a full grown animal living in the natural habitat. It was found resting on a rock in a small cave like structure.

“The villagers had earlier also sighted three snow leopards during last winters and officials of the forest department recorded their presence in the valley. This is a good sign about rare wildlife species co-existing with blue sheep and ibex,“ Banyal said .

Ibex or blue sheep are natural prey of snow leopards.

In May 2020, a snow leopard cub was also rescued at village Giu in Spiti as it apparently got separated from its mother. The animal was later brought to the Wild animal rehabilitation centre at Himalayan nature park Kufri.

The cub was later also released in the same location to enable it to re-join its family but the effort of the wildlife teams reportedly did not succeed. The cub died of starvation as it could not hunt the prey on its own, officials inform.

Two years back, the wildlife wing of the forest department in collaboration with the Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore had conducted a study on the snow leopard population in Spiti. The study stated that there were 73 snow leopards in Himachal Pradesh, excluding cubs.

Following on, snow leopards—considered as one of the world’s most endangered species— local administration at Kaza had banned all motor rallies in the Kibber sanctuary area.