Snow Leopard Scouts Environmental Awareness Camp

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Snow Leopard Scouts in Jomsom- Lower Mustang, Nepal attended an Environmental Awareneses Camp.  During this camp students were educated and trained in a number of fronts related to snow leopard biology, environmental awareness, nature hiking and wildlife observation, prey ecology, and issues related to people-wildlife conflicts.  The participants camped for three full nights, and two full-day field excursions, in the high alpine pasture (Vaprasa-Namu), were made.  Students observed various wildlife including red fox (the intermediate predator), pika and other rodents, and blue sheep.  The program was coordinated by ACAP rangers, conservation education assistant, conservation education teacher, and SLC coordinators.  Among others, the following activities took place–

1. Camera traps:  Learning about remote cameras and installing and monitoring them on strategic locations (snow leopard trails) were made.  Note Snow Leopard Scouts and local herders have been monitoring snow leopards through remote cameras (in three locations) since 2011.  In 2011, the cameras captured three, and in 2012 all three were recaptured along with a cub.  This indicated the snow leopard population in Mustang is thriving.  On 15 May 2013, the camera located in Muktinath captured a new adult individual!  2012/2013 Snow Leopard Scouts have christened the three snow leopards as Mukti, Nilgiri and Tilicho.  The new snow leopard scouts will have opportunity to name the fourth individual.

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2. Snow leopard sign-tracking, and blue sheep observation and classification

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3. Site characterization along one of the “sing transects” (there are four such transects):  Students were also taught about climate change issues and how one may be able to keep track of climate change on snow leopard habitat.

4. Environmental debate:  Students were grouped into two and they were given relevant materials on snow leopard and other local wildlife species to go through prior to the debate. The discussion and debate took two hours. The aim was to assess their interests and enthusiasm on snow leopard and other local flora and fauna.

5. Nature drawing (stone and sketch paintings) and field-diary writing.

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-text and images by Som Ale

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