Friday, June 22, 2012

Camera traps catch Snow Leopard and in Wangchuck Centennial Park
Tanden Zangmo
In a recent camera trapping of Snow Leopard by Wangchuck Centennial Park (WCP) under Department of Forests and Park Services from March 8 to June 4, 14 stations captured pictures of Snow Leopard from the total of 28 stations.
Park officials said the second phase of camera trapping was intended to determine the spatial distribution and individual identification of Snow Leopards within the Central Park Range premises.
The camera traps, besides the Snow leopard, captured other mammals like Asiatic Black Bear, Musk Deer, Blue Sheep, Tibetan Wolf, Mountain Weasel and Red Fox were also captured.
The team before setting up the camera traps first identified potential areas logically. “The experience from the previous camera trap helped us to understand the potential area.” The locations were then were mapped on toposheet.
A total of 56 cameras were set up for the purpose in 28 different stations inside the park areas. The team has mapped 4 Km­­2 areas placing camera in every vertices. The cameras were set up especially in selected trails that were frequented by animals. 
Besides mammalian species, the camera traps also captured numerous other avifauna wildlife species. Diverse birds such as Monal Pheasant, Blood Pheasant, Satyr Tragopan, Tibetan Snow Cock, Yellow-billed Chough, Snow Partridge were also captured.
Officials said that such study will help the WCP management to determine the number of individual Snow Leopard within the study area. Besides, the team also collected Snow Leopard scats for DNA analysis to identify individual Snow Leopard and to understand the fecal composition of Snow Leopard in WCP.
Park officials said that presence of such healthy population of illusive snow leopard is a good sign of Bhutan in general and WCP in particular being the host for wide range of faunal species. They said that such findings from the study indicate good ecosystem.
According to Park Manager of WCP, D.S Rai, such technique would help identify the individual snow leopard and spatial distribution. “This has helped us to understand the pyre-based and a kind of movement they make.”
The WCP team has conducted same scheme last year by setting up few cameras around the park region and was able to understand few behaviors of the snow leopard and Tibetan wolf.
However the team this year was able to study the whole behavior of both snow leopard and Tibetan wolf. Through their study the blue sheep is the common pyre for both snow leopard and Tibetan wolf and the concern for the team was about Tibetan wolf which hunt in pack to defeat snow leopard which hunt in single.
“Earlier highlander used to rear sheep in high attitude but these days we can see no more which has led the Tibetan wolf to pyre on blue sheep.” D.s Rai said.
With the achievement for their study this year the team has identified the competition of pyre in blue sheep by the snow leopard and Tibetan wolf. They have also identified the domestic yaks as the other pyre for Tibetan wolf.
The field survey was technically supported by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) -Bhutan.

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