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Blue Sheep & Ibex Census: Lahaul-Spiti Study



  May 24, 2024

Blue Sheep & Ibex Census: Lahaul-Spiti Study



ESTIMATING POPULATIONS OF BLUE SHEEP AND HIMALAYAN IBEX IN LAHAUL & SPITI

What is Happening?

• A census has started in Lahaul & Spiti, Himachal Pradesh, to estimate the populations of blue sheep (bharal) and Himalayan ibex. These animals are the primary prey for the snow leopard.

Who is Involved?

• The survey is conducted by field staff from the National Conservation Foundation and the Wildlife Division of Spiti.

Why is it Important?

• Blue sheep and Himalayan ibex are crucial for the ecosystem as they are major prey for the snow leopard, an apex predator classified as ‘vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

How is the Census Conducted?

• The census uses the double observer survey technique. The field staff will survey the challenging terrain of Lahaul & Spiti over a period of 15 days.

Early Findings:

• On the first day of the survey, 453 blue sheep were counted in the Tabo area. This indicates a positive trend in the population of these species.

Conservation Measures:

• There is a complete ban on hunting of all wild animals, including blue sheep and Himalayan ibex, in Lahaul & Spiti. The local Buddhist community plays a significant role in conservation efforts, as they abstain from hunting and assist in protecting wildlife.

Community Involvement:

• Locals, like Lara Tshering from Langcha village, report that blue sheep and Himalayan ibex are now commonly seen in their areas. This has also led to an increase in snow leopard sightings.

Impact on Wildlife Tourism:

• The rise in the populations of blue sheep and ibex has boosted wildlife tourism in the region. More tourists are visiting Lahaul & Spiti to see these animals and the snow leopards, creating economic opportunities for the local communities.

Key Points to Remember:

1. Blue Sheep (Bharal): Crucial prey for snow leopards, population increasing.
2. Himalayan Ibex: Another key prey species for snow leopards, also showing population growth.
3. Snow Leopards: Apex predators whose sightings have increased due to the rise in prey populations.
4. Conservation Efforts: Effective due to hunting bans and community involvement.
5. Tourism: Boosted by the increasing populations of these wildlife species, benefiting the local economy.

By understanding and supporting the conservation of blue sheep and Himalayan ibex, we help maintain the balance of the ecosystem and support the survival of the snow leopard.



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