First Photographic Evidence of Central Asian Lynx in Kargil, Ladakh

The lynx was recorded on October 28, 2020, at an altitude of 4,154 meters in the Rangdum area of Kargil. The researchers identified it as a Eurasian Lynx based on distinctive features
The Central Asian lynx (Lynx lynx isabellinus) is a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx
The Central Asian lynx (Lynx lynx isabellinus) is a subspecies of the Eurasian lynxWikimedia Commons

Ladakh's Kargil district has recorded the first photographic evidence of the Central Asian lynx. Previously documented only in Leh district, this medium-sized wild cat was captured on camera during a study focused on flagship species like the snow leopard.

The Central Asian lynx (Lynx lynx isabellinus), a subspecies of the Eurasian lynx, is listed as a Schedule I species in India’s Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. Despite the Eurasian lynx being categorized as of least concern by the IUCN Red List, its Central Asian subspecies has a very low population in India. Recently, it gained increased protection status under Appendix II of the Convention on the Conservation of Migratory Species (CMS) of Wild Animals.

Central Asian subspecies has a very low population in India
Central Asian subspecies has a very low population in IndiaWikimedia Commons

Previously, sightings of this lynx were confined to Hemis National Park, Chang Chenmo area, Nubra Valley, Changthang, and the proposed Gya-Miru Wildlife Sanctuary in eastern Ladakh. Known for preying on rodents and small mammals, the Central Asian lynx now expands its known range westward with this new evidence from Kargil.

The lynx was recorded on October 28, 2020, at an altitude of 4,154 meters in the Rangdum area of Kargil. The researchers identified it as a Eurasian Lynx based on distinctive features like ear tufts and a short black tail. The meadow-dominated habitat, rich in willow, wild onion, twisted knotweed, and Webb’s rose, was also home to other wildlife, such as red foxes, Himalayan wolves, and domestic yaks.

The trail where the lynx was captured is a notable trekking route from Rangdum to Kanji and Dibling. The lynx is known for livestock depredation in Ladakh, responsible for 2 per cent of such incidents, posing a threat of retaliatory killings. The study suggests measures for livestock protection and highlights additional threats like habitat loss, poaching, and the increasing population of free-ranging dogs.

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