Leh, Oct 10: In the highlands of Ladakh, as snow began to melt at the end of a long winter, a cold April night saw an unusual occurrence — a single “shan” or snow leopard killing 49 goats and sheep in Meru village, about 70 km from here. Around the same time, some 100-odd km away in Rumbak, in the Hemis tiol Park — the heart of the snow leopard’s habitat — 30-year-old Padma stepped out of her tent-shop next to a fierce glacial stream and pointed towards snowless mountain slopes.
Meanwhile, still farther away, in Matho village, 70-year-old Yeshitsewang and others had to dispatch about 2,000 goats, sheep and cows for grazing earlier than usual. Reason: The grazing pastures, from where the cattle would return after September, had shifted northwards and upwards.
These symptoms — snowless mountains, strong glacial rivers, livestock killings by snow leopards, tense man-animal relationships and shifting grasslands — are some of brutal realities of climate-change pushing the magnificent feline to the edge. In Ladakh, these changes are happening at a rapid pace, and the region, its people and the iconic species are suffering the consequences. (IANS)