TAPLEJUNG, Sept 17: A camera installed for monitoring snow leopards in the Kanchanjungha Conservation Area has captured a leopard cat at 4500 m above the sea level, which, officials claimed, is the highest point at which the species was found.
“As per our information, no species has been found at that altitude in any part of the world,” said Gangaram Singh, the chief of KCA.
Earlier, on November 19, 2009, a camera trapping survey in Makalu-Barun National Park in eastern Nepal had recorded a leopard cat at 3254 m, which, at the time, was claimed to be the highest point at which the cat was found.
Singh claimed that the 2009 record was accepted by the international community as the highest point where the leopard cat has been captured. So, the new camera trapping of the species at an altitude of 4500 meters would definitely be a new record.
According to some studies, leopard cat is found at an altitudinal range of 2000 to 3000 meters. Though leopard cat, which falls under the jungle cat family category, is one of the rare species found in Nepal, there hasn´t been enough research about the species.
Singh opined that the discovery indicates an upward shifting of habitat of the species. “However, there should be more investigative study on the habitat shifting by the species,” he added.
The camera that was placed in the jungle near Finda of Taplejung, where the community supported snow leopard monitoring is going on, trapped the leopard cat. Researchers are excited by the discovery and are investigating the camera trapped images of the species.
According to Singh, the leopard cat is smaller than both a normal leopard and a snow leopard and it measures about 60 centimeters in length. The cat normally weighs 3 to 7 kg. It has a tail of about 35 cm length.
“The leopard cat preys on birds and small mammals. Birds are important food for them and that´s why locally they are known as Chari Bagh,” Singh added.