For the first time in camera trapping surveys, three adult Snow Leopards have been captured in a single frame, walking in a row, at the heart of the Wangchuck Centennial Park.
The three Snow Leopards were first caught on captured on camera in December 20, 2011. The group was again sighted on March 10th and March 17th this year. Snow leopards are usually solitary and nocturnal cats found above the tree line. Within this habitat, sighting a snow leopard is rare.
Camera traps were stationed at an elevation of 3975 m as a part of a prey-base field survey of Snow Leopards funded by WWF Bhutan Program. The survey started since the last week of October 2011. From a total of 28 camera stations set up, 14 stations managed to capture exclusive pictures of Snow Leopards.
Today, there are only about 4000 to 6000 snow leopards globally. Bhutan is one of the 12 countries in Asia that harbor Snow leopard population in its natural habitat. About 100-200 leopards are expected to be surviving in a potential range of 10,000 km².
Besides Snow Leopards, the last camera trap has also captured pictures of Asiatic Black Bear (Ursus thibetanus), Himalayan Serow (Naemorhedus sumatraensis), Musk Deer (Moschus chrysogaster), Tibetan Wolf (Canis lupus chanco) and Red Fox (Vulpus vulpus).
The first phase of camera trapping for Snow Leopard was carried out from March 8 to June 4, 2012. The second phase of the survey will start from November 2012 and will cover the remaining western part of WCP. The second phase of camera trapping survey will uncover more about the Snow Leopard presence, distribution and individuals in WCP.