It’s likely that India’s first high-altitude research centre for studying snow leopards will be situated in the mountains of Himachal Pradesh in north India. The Centre will be in the Kibber plateau of Spiti valley, and will be set up jointly with the National Conservation Foundation.
Sanjeeva Pandey, Chief Wildlife warden, is optimistic saying “comprehensive study on snow leopards will be conducted, including research on the prey base of snow leopards.” One of the snow leopard’s main prey is the blue sheep (also known as bharal). Unfortunately blue sheep are often attacked by stray dogs whose population has been growing in the area.
A recent survey found only about 500 blue sheep where previously there would have been thousands. The Centre plans to restrict the population of stray dogs in the habitats of snow leopards to help the blue sheep numbers increase.
Another role for the Centre is research on the actual numbers of snow leopards still there. Recently the Wildlife department set up 25 trap cameras with sensors in different places in Spiti’s Kibber plateau but only five snow leopards could be located in an area of about 1,000 square kilometres. If the number of blue sheep increases it is hoped the number of snow leopards will increase also.