Snow Leopard returns to Khumbu!
Wildlife researchers from the University of Illinois-Chicago are convinced the rare and elusive snow leopard (Uncia uncia) has returned to roam the valleys of the Khumbu region of Nepal, south of Mount Everest.
In a report on nature.com cites the scientists as having based their research on the decline in growth of the Himalayan Tahr (Hemitragus jemlahicus), the wild goat relatives that are the primary prey for snow leopards.
Made famous by Peter Matthiessen’s famous 1978 book The Snow Leopard, this secretive and beautiful cat has been all but absent from the valleys around Mount Everest since the region was opened to foreigners in 1950. So, evidence that the snow leopard might be returning to its mountain home is exciting news indeed!
I had the opportunity to see a snow leopard in captivity at the Darjeeling Zoo in West Bengal, India, in 2003. Graceful, powerful, and beautiful, it was sad to know that less than 6000 remain in the wild today. But, hopefully through efforts by organizations like the Snow Leopard Trust and the Snow Leopard Conservancy, their numbers will continue to grow through habitat preservation and conservation measures.
And, maybe we will all have the chance to see this amazing creature in the wild…but, from a distance!