The endangered snow ibex also known as Himalayan blue sheep were currently undergoing seasonal migration after freezing of water bodies in the high reaches of Himalayan ranges as it were stepping down in many parts of state registers annual migrations in search of habitation, conducive weather and shelter, the wild life officials said.
Number of flocks of snow ibex or ‘bharal’ (local name) are visible near human habitations near Keylong, headquarters of Lahaul & Spiti, Tandi, Churk, Mayar and Chokham valley in the district while it were also found in the high ranges of Kinnuar, Shimla and Chamba districts which extend to Jammu and Kashmir in India, senior wild life officer Hira Lal and district forest officer of Lahaul & Spiti confirmed. Mr. Lal has urged the local people to not disturb the migrated animals who came down in large number of flocks near many villages and are easily visible in many places.
The people of Mayar and other parts of Lahaul & Spiti district also have been haunting the animal for time immemorial. The wild life officials were keeping vigil on the safety of animal cautioning the people to not disturb them. This Himalayan blue sheep, an important prey of the endangered snow leopard, is under threat in the wild. State wild life authority has banned the killing of animal by the people after forming State protection and Conservation of Wild life Act in 1972. The species are listed as least concerned by IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature).
This animal is killed for flesh and wool in many countries, facing threat of existence. This wild sheep usually found in the steep rocky Himalayan ranges could easily climb up to the remote places where other animals could not venture. After the snowfall and extreme winters they use to migrate down as water bodies get freeze after mercury plunged in the minus. They could manage to survive in the extreme winters as this animal is gifted with unique hide having pasham wool on them. The wool having high demand in the market, is automatically shed down by this animal during the summer season and have been collected by the locals who used to make weightless and warmest shawl out of it which was sold like hot cake in the market, the official said. Nowadays people have left this vocation to collect animal pasham wool as it is arduous task to go in far high places in the Himalayan ranges where these animal habitat.
In the last summer season a highly contagious viral infection had been spread among snow ibex in the Spiti Valley along Indo-Tibetian border range when large number of blue sheep had been found suffered from domesticated Foot-and-Mouth disease.
The snow leopard, snow ibex, musk deer, mouse hare, long-tailed marmot and wild ass are prominent mammal species found in the alpine and cold desert regions of Spiti. The animals are also found in Himalayan regions of India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, China and Nepal.