Researchers at New Zealand’s Massey University Institute of Natural Sciences will be placing global positioning satellite (GPS) collars on Bharal, the blue sheep of the Himalayas in the Annapurna region of Nepal. They are called blue sheep as their fur is brown to blue. They are also very distinctive with tightly curled horns.
The Bharal is one of the major prey species for snow leopards and the region is remote and at very high altitudes so in the past its been almost impossible to study these sheep. Questions the researchers will want to answer include are there enough of these sheep to support the snow leopard populations?
Project Leader Achyut Aryal from Nepal says “this region is one of the last refuges for species such as snow leopards, brown bear, wolf, lynx and, importantly, their keystone prey species, the blue sheep.”
The researchers will track 10 sheep for two years across the high mountains to learn their grazing habits, movements and population numbers. Another innovation of the project is to involve New Zealand school children who’ll be able to track the movements of the sheep on computers in their classrooms.
More on this story here.
More facts on blue sheep here.