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Kashmir goats posing threat to endangered snow leopard, study reveals

A snow leopard spotted in  Kashmir, file photo. source:  www.kashmirtourism.org
A snow leopard spotted in Kashmir, file photo. source: www.kashmirtourism.org

KATHMANDU, Nepal-Domestic Kashmir goat farm which increased by tripled in size in parts of Central Asia during the last 20 years is posing threat to snow leopard since the goats are encroaching on the natural habitats of this wild beast, a new report revealed.

Kashmir, a disputed land of Pakistan and India is home to two of the world’s big cats, the common leopard (Panthera pardus) and the snow leopard (Uncia uncia).

The authors of the paper published in Conservation Biology disclosed that other endangered animals like the Antelope (Saiga Tatarica), the Tibetan Chiru (Pantholops Hodgsonii) and the Himalayan Bharal (Pseudois Nayaur) also known as the blue sheep are also facing the same threat from the Kashmir goats.

‘As the snow leopards’ habitats converge with domestic goats, the decline wild prey can increasingly lead the leopards to hunt the goats’, report the authors, ‘consequently there has now been a noted increase in “retaliatory killings” of snow leopards by humans protecting their herds.’

According to BBC, in Mongolia alone, numbers of domestic goats have grown from about five million in 1990 to close to 14 million in 2010. Farmers in India and China’s Tibetan Plateau also herd goats for Kashmir.

Charudutt Mishra of the Snow Leopard Trust and one of the co-authors of the paper, Kashmir “is an key source of livelihood” for local communities in many parts of Central Asia.

“Kashmir production is a complicated human issue. Understandably, indigenous herders are trying to improve their livelihoods, but the short-term economic gain is harming the local ecosystem,’ the study further said.

“By improving our understanding of the relationship between indigenous herders, local ecology and global markets, we can implement policies at the national and international level which are better designed to protect biodiversity while supporting the livelihoods of local communities,’ the study said.

Mishra said “green labelling” of Kashmir clothes could help bring awareness to the issue.

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