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453 Blue Sheep Spotted in Himachal's Spiti on Day 1 of Wildlife Survey

A 15-day survey in Himachal Pradesh's Spiti region, conducted by the National Conservation Foundation and the Spiti Wildlife Division, recorded 453 Blue Sheep on the first day. This survey aims to count Blue Sheep and Himalayan Ibex

By Ground report
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453 Blue Sheep Spotted in Himachal's Spiti on Day 1 of Wildlife Survey

Photo credit: Wikimedia Commons/Ksuryawanshi

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A survey in Himachal Pradesh's Spiti region, conducted by the National Conservation Foundation and the Spiti Wildlife Division, spotted 453 Blue Sheep on the first day. This 15-day survey, which began on May 16th, aims to count Blue Sheep and Himalayan Ibex to collect accurate data on these vulnerable species, which are the main prey for the endangered snow leopard.

Mandar Jewre, the Deputy Conservator of Forests (Wildlife) for the Spiti Division, stated that the comprehensive information gathered during the survey would guide further efforts to strengthen the conservation and promotion of these valuable species. The double observer technique employed in the survey is a scientific method designed to ensure accurate population estimates.

Lara Tshering, a youth from the Langcha area involved in wildlife conservation and tourism, expressed delight at the increasing sightings of Blue Sheep and Himalayan Ibex in their vicinity. "With the rise in their numbers, the population of snow leopards is also increasing," he said.

Hunting of all wild animals, including Blue Sheep and Himalayan Ibex, is strictly prohibited in the Spiti region. Local communities, predominantly followers of Buddhism, have embraced a culture of non-violence towards wildlife, contributing to the absence of poaching incidents in the area.

Tshering highlighted the local community's commitment to protecting wildlife, including providing medical treatment to injured animals in collaboration with the forest department.

According to DFO Manendra Javade, the entire Spiti Valley will be covered in this year's count, with local community members also being involved in the process. "Blue Sheep and Himalayan Ibex are the main prey for snow leopards, and it is crucial to maintain their populations in abundance for the promotion of this endangered big cat," he emphasized.

The counting is being conducted through the double-observer survey technique, a methodology developed by the Global Snow Leopard Organization. In this approach, two inspectors independently count and record their observations of the wild animals, without informing each other about the locations. This ensures accurate and unbiased data collection.

The significance of this exercise lies in the fact that Blue Sheep and Himalayan Ibex are the primary food sources for snow leopards, making their conservation pivotal for the survival of the elusive big cats. A recent survey conducted last year estimated the presence of 73 snow leopards in Himachal Pradesh, with Kibber village in Spiti being identified as one of the strongest habitats for these majestic felines.

Snow leopards in Himachal Pradesh are found in the rugged terrain of the Himalayas, ranging from the Kibber Wildlife Sanctuary in Lahaul and Spiti to Pangi in Chamba district and parts of Kinnaur, at altitudes between 9,800 feet and 17,000 feet.

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