POKHARA, Feb 12: A new species of cat never before seen in Nepal has been found in the upper area of the Himalayan district of Manang.
The small animal called Pallas´s cat was tracked through camera trap installed to monitor movement of snow leopards in the district. The animal with Near Threatened (NT) conservation status in The IUCN Red List of Threatened Species was found for the first time in Nepal, according to conservationists.
The beautiful animal of cat family also called manul was found for the first time in Nepal at Aangumie Lapchay( 4600 meters) and Praken ( 4200meters) inside the Annapurna Conservation Area Project(ACAP) in the district, informed Bikram Shrestha, coordinator of ongoing Snow Leopard Conservancy Program.
“The automatic cameras installed for the monitoring of the snow leopards tracked a new species of cat which is hitherto unknown to conservationists working in the Nepal,” said Shrestha amid a press meet organized on Wednesday. He also informed that the new species of cat were photographed on a camera trap twice in ACAP, firstly on December 2012 at Aangumie Lapchay and again on December 2013 at Praken.
Three wildlife researchers -- Angie Appel from Germany, Karna Shah, of Nepal as well as Jim Sanderson from USA--were entrusted with carrying out the study the on the newly found species. Shrestha further informed that a team of experts had confirmed the new animal to be Pallas´s cat.
“It has no Nepali name for it is completely a new animal to the country. We came to know the new animal to be Pallas´s cat after comparing its photographs with similar species found in other parts of the world,” Shrestha added.
According to Shrestha, the new cat was trapped on the camera during night time only. The cat species are approximately the same size and shape and weighs up to 4 kg. It mainly feeds on insects and rodents found in the Himalayan region.
An individual Manul, the species found distributed across the grasslands and montane steppe of Central Asia, was camera-trapped in Iran´s Khojir National Park for the first time in 2008, informed Shrestha. He further added that Pallas´ cats were also recorded by camera traps in Bhutan´s Wangchuck Centennial Park in 2012. “Other areas in Nepal also have the possibility of Pallas´s cat. So, an in-depth study is needed regarding this new species,” said Shrestha.
Chiranjibi Prasad Upadhyay, the dean at Institute of Forestry at Pokhara, also underscored the need for conserving the newly found species.