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For the first time, clouded leopard spotted in India’s Nagaland mountains

by Sangam Paudel, Jan 14
2 minutes read

Researchers have spotted a clouded leopard in a community forest in Nagaland at an altitude of 3700 metres, the first spotting at such record heights for the state. Clouded leopards occupy a variety of habitats but are usually found in primary evergreen rainforests and along the foothills of the Himalayas.

So what?

The findings suggest that the clouded leopard is able to inhabit high altitude habitats in the eastern Himalayas. Sightings at similarly high altitudes have been noted in Nepal, Bhutan, and the Indian state of Sikkim. These findings further highlight the importance of such community forest schemes in harbouring rare biodiversity.

Further, other felines have been spotted in record high altitudes in recent years. Tigers that normally inhabit the plaints were spotted at record altitudes in the mid hill forests of Western and Eastern Nepal. Although there is not enough evidence to suggest a link to climate change and there might be other factors influencing animal movements, these sightings do underscore the importance of these forests – mostly community managed – in high altitudes.

How might increased sightings of rare animals in previously undocumented areas influence our perception of community managed forests? And as sightings increase, is there a risk of increased human-wildlife conflict that governing bodies might need to plan for?

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