First female snow leopard GPS-collared in Nepal paves way for new knowledge in conservation science | WWF

First female snow leopard GPS-collared in Nepal paves way for new knowledge in conservation science



Posted on 20 June 2016
20 foothold snares were set up in different locations at altitudes of 4,500m. A transmitter connected to the snare triggers an alarm at the control station once an animal is caught in it.
© Rebecca May/WWF UK

A female snow leopard was successfully collared with GPS technology for the first time in Nepal’s Kangchenjunga Conservation Area. 
 
The sub-adult female snow leopard, about 2-3 years of age and weighing 30kg was captured in Yangma (4587m), fitted with a GPS collar and released back into the wild on 27 April 2016. Named Lapchhemba after a Tibetan Buddhist deity with a snow leopard as her pet, she joins two male snow leopards who were collared in the protected area in November 2013 and May 2015.
 
Data received from Lapchhemba will enable conservationists to study her behavior and ecology vis-à-vis her male counterparts, and her movement patterns in the alpine regions of this eastern snow leopard conservation complex including understanding transboundary habitat linkages across India and China. It will also provide conservationists with insight into the breeding and predation patterns of snow leopards.
 
“Nepal hopes to gain new knowledge from its first collared female snow leopard.” stated Krishna Acharya, Director General of the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation. “While complementing existing snow leopard science and research, we believe it will also contribute towards understanding deeper transboundary linkages to promote collaborative conservation strategies with neighboring China and India.”
 
The 50-day long collaring expedition was led by the Government of Nepal’s Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation with the support of WWF, Conservation and Adaptation in Asia’s High Mountain Landscapes and Communities Project funded by USAID, National Trust for Nature Conservation, Kangchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council, and citizen scientists from the local Snow Leopard Conservation Committee.
 
“It is nearly a decade that the management of Kangchenjunga Conservation Area was handed over to the local community by the government,” said Anil Manandhar, Country Representative of WWF Nepal. “Conservation initiatives have, over the years, gained from strength to strength with local communities in particular being stewards of snow leopard protection and local citizen scientists contributing to the success of collaring missions such as this.”
 
Information from the previous two collared snow leopards have provided valuable insight into snow leopard transboundary movement between Nepal, India and China, and data on their spatial movements and ecological habitat in the Nepalese landscape.
 

20 foothold snares were set up in different locations at altitudes of 4,500m. A transmitter connected to the snare triggers an alarm at the control station once an animal is caught in it.
© Rebecca May/WWF UK Enlarge
Local citizen scientists were instrumental in tracking snow leopard movements through camera traps installed by them in areas of potential snow leopard activity.
© Rebecca May/WWF UK Enlarge
Named Lapchhemba after a Tibetan Buddhist deity with a snow leopard as her pet, she is the Nepal's first female snow leopard to be GPS-collared.
© Bicky Gauchan/WWF Nepal Enlarge
The sub-adult female snow leopard, about 2-3 years of age and weighing 30kg, was GPS collared and released into the wild on 27 April 2016.
© WWF Nepal Enlarge