WWF radio collars elusive snow leopard in Pakistan

Posted on 23 November 2006  | 

Chitral, Pakistan – Scientists captured a female snow leopard in Chitral Gol National Park in northern Pakistan on 17 November 2006, fitting her with a GPS-satellite collar.

In a first of its kind study, the 35kg animal will provide researchers with an unprecedented amount of data on snow leopard movements and habitat use. The GPS will help calculate the cat’s exact position several times each day.

The morning after the capture, the signal from the leopard’s collar indicated that she had already traveled a substantial distance overnight. The collar was also successful in making several GPS locations during that period, which showed the technology is working as planned.

Part of a protected areas management project, the snow leopard study is being carried out by the International Snow Leopard Trust, the NWFP Wildlife Department and WWF, with support from UNDP-GEF.

The female snow leopard was captured high on Pakistan's Purdum Mali ridge (which means cave of the snow leopard in Chitrali). This is the same ridge where Dr George Schaller took his first picture of a wild snow leopard some 30 years ago. 

Scientists named the snow leopard Bayad-e-Kohsaar (which in Urdu means "In Memory of Mountains") to honour conservationists who recently lost their lives in a tragic helicopter accident in Nepal.

"The snow leopard is a magnificent predator and flagship species for the spectacular mountain ranges of Asia, including the Himalayas, Karakorams, Hindu Kush, Pamirs, Tien Shans, and Altai ranges," said Amjad Aslam, Head of Communications at WWF-Pakistan.

"Yet the snow leopard faces pressures that are bringing this species closer to extinction and populations of the cat are in decline in many parts of its range."

Scientists plan to tag up to five more cats with radio collars over the next several months.

For further information:

Amjad Aslam, WWF - Pakistan
Tel: +92 42 5862360|
E-mail: aaslam@wwf.org.pk

Snow leopards live in mountain steppes and coniferous forest scrub at altitudes ranging from 2000 to 6000 meters.
© © WWF-Canon / Martin HARVEY Enlarge

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