Where have the snow leopards gone?

CHITRAL, Feb 17: Despite heavy snowfall last week, leopard has yet to be seen at low altitudes of Chitral forests. leopardLocal biodiversity specialist Ejaz Ahmad said leopard was a cryptic and shy animal and preferred to stay at high altitudes away from human settlements. “The wild cat descends to low altitudes due to intense need of food at high altitudes after heavy snowfall,” he said. Mr Ahmad added that all other wildlife of the Hindukush belt had already descended to lower altitude. He said the range of the wild cat’s habitat was pretty wide and it was quite likely that it must be across the border in Afghanistan and in such a case, it won’t be spotted in the current season. The biodiversity specialist said population of snow leopard remained abysmally low due to its widest range of habitation but it could be said that its population in the region was not facing any threat of extinction though lower than the past. He said during Afghan war, the population of snow leopard was concentrated in the area. According to Mr Ahmad, the wild cat is usually spotted in Toshi game reserve on the other bank of Garam Chashma River in February when the higher mountains are covered by snow and it feeds on Kashmir markhor present there in large numbers. Normally, the place draws large crowds after the arrival of snow leopard, but that is not the case this time because the animal has yet to make an appearance.–Dawn]]>

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