Nepal has launched the first census of its snow leopards, local media reported, in a bid to raise awareness of the endangered species.

Closed circuit television cameras have been installed around the northern district of Mustang, at an altitude of 4 000 to 5 000 metres, and are planned to count the district’s leopards within two months.

\”The census aims to find the exact population of snow leopards and conserve them,” Som Ale, one of the conservationists involved in the project, was quoted as saying by the Kathmandu Post.

“We believe it will help bring awareness about conservation of leopards among people.”

The project is being carried out jointly by the National Trust for Nature Conservation, the Annapurna Conservation Area Project and other partners.<

Nepal’s snow leopards live in the Mugu, Mustang, Dolpa and Humla districts in the northern belt, at an altitude of around 5 000 metres.

Conservationists say their number is rapidly declining and put the current figure at 300 to 500.

“Major threats for snow leopards come from the human and wildlife conflict,” World Wide Fund for Nature official Kamal Thapa told dpa.

“Villagers kill the animals for attacking their livestock.”

The conservationist group is running insurance programmes to discourage people from attacking the endangered species to defend their cattle.

CREDIT: http://www.timeslive.co.za/world/2011/11/03/nepal-to-conduct-first-snow-leopard-census

PHOTO CREDIT: Sapa-dpa | www.timeslive.co.za, File photo