Chhimi Dema 

A total of 21 rangers from the Department of Forests and Park Services are carrying out the second national snow leopard survey.

The global snow leopard population is estimated to be between 4,080 and 6,590.

The survey began in the first week of August this year.

The animal is known as ‘ghosts of the mountains’ because of their elusive nature. They live in the mountains of northern and central Asia and the Himalayas.

In the Himalayas, snow leopards live in high alpine areas, mostly above the tree line and up to 5,400 metres elevation.

They are found in 12 countries including Bhutan, China, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Russia, and Mongolia.

The first survey in 2015 recorded 96 snow leopard

Officials from the department said that such surveys are important to ascertain the status and population trend of the species, which is globally threatened to prioritise conservation actions.

“Conservation of snow leopard indirectly contributes towards conservation of snow-covered mountains which are freshwater reservoirs of our country,” the officials said.

The survey is carried out in field offices and parks, namely the Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park, Jigme Khesar Strict Nature Reserve, Wangchuck Centennial Park, Bumdeling Wildlife Sanctuary, Jigme Singye Wangchuck National Park, Paro and Thimphu Forest Divisions.

The rangers in the field are installing camera traps, collecting the animal scats, and recording prey and floral information.

The snow leopard is an apex predator of the alpine landscape of Bhutan.

Officials said: “The health and status of the snow leopard will determine the ecological balance of the alpine landscape.”

The country carried out the first snow leopard survey in 2015.

The survey found that the country had 96 snow leopards. Jigme Dorji Wangchuck National Park recorded the highest number of snow leopards—31.

The second national survey will end in December.