SRINAGAR, India (AP) — A pair of rare, reclusive snow leopards have been photographed wandering a remote, mountain region once ravaged by conflict between India and Pakistan.
Infrared camera traps set up months ago by World Wildlife Fund-India filmed the adult snow leopards in Kargil district just a few miles (kilometers) from the heavily militarized Line of Control that runs through the disputed territory of Kashmir.
WWF-India says it is the second photo sighting of endangered snow leopards in Kargil, after one was photographed hunting a herd of Asiatic Ibex in 2009.
The recent sighting has encouraged environmentalists as it suggests the big cats were not scared away from the Kargil mountains by the 1999 India-Pakistan conflict that killed hundreds of soldiers on both sides before a cease-fire was established with U.S. mediation.
Snow leopards are considered the most endangered of big cats and face threats from poaching, habitat loss and retaliatory killings by farmers for lost livestock.
They live in regions of extreme cold and harsh terrain and are difficult to study. Between 4,000 and 6,500 are believed left in the wild in the Himalayan regions of Afghanistan, Bhutan, Siberia, Mongolia, Pakistan and India.