Kufri, Apr 12 : The forest department in Himachal Pradesh is making efforts to find a mate for the only snow leopard they are left with in Kufri zoo. The snow leopard named 'Subhash' is residing in Himalayan Nature Park in Kufri and would be ready for breeding soon. After breeding, the leopards will be released in their natural Trans Himalayan habitat in Spiti of Himachal Pradesh.
Himalayan Nature Park, which is left with the male snow leopard, is recognised as one of the participating zoo for breeding purpose by the Central Zoo Authority (CZA), a statutory body under the Ministry of Environment and Forests.
The department informed that presently the snow leopard is kept for educational purpose and very soon it would be used as conservational purpose.
"We are the third zoo to be recognised as the participating zoo nd Darjeeling is the coordinating zoo. Darjeeling has long experience of breeding snow leopards. We have also been breeding snow leopards over here, but somehow, we were not able to release it back into the wild and it died later on. But definitely with new knowledge and new experience, we will be able to do it successfully," said Nagesh Guleria, deputy conservator, wildlife wing, Himachal Pradesh.
The tourists, who are visiting the zoo to see the only snow leopard, say that there is a need to preserve the endangered species of the leopard. They feel that the snow leopard should also be kept in other zoos of the country as well.
"We could not see its partner. If its mate had been there, it would have been better," said Balbindar Singh, a tourist.
Reportedly, 'Subhash' was brought here with a female snow leopard in 2005 from West Bengal. The female died within two years and the breeding process came to a halt.
Snow leopard is one of the endangered species around the world.
Scientifically known as the Uncia uncia, the solitary cats are native to the remote mountain ranges of central and southern Asia, where their population is estimated to be around 7,000.
In 2006, India had between 200 and 600 snow leopards, of which, around half inhabit Kashmir's ranges at altitudes of about 3,000 metres.
According to officials, the degradation of their natural habitat, poaching for their fur, reduction of their prey due to hunting, and killings by local people in retribution for attacks on their livestock are some of the main threats. By Hemant Chauhan