Indian army searching for snow leopards on sacred glacier

August 21, 2009
Gangotri glacier. Photo National Geographic George F. Mobley 1984.

Gangotri glacier. Photo National Geographic George F. Mobley 1984.

The Indian Army is getting involved in helping the environment and India’s endangered flora and fauna. 15 men will be going up to the sacred Gangotri glacier in northern India near China’s border to search for snow leopard sightings and evidence of a rare plant, the legendary Brahma kamal, a medicinal plant named after the Hindu God of creation. According to Commanding Officer Ajay Kothiyal, the research material would be forwarded to the Indian Mountaineering Foundation (IMF) and its scientists.

“Due to the area’s inaccessibility and extreme weather conditions, there has been little research on the flora and fauna in the Himalayan region. Flowers like the Brahma kamal, blue poppy, snow lotus and some local medicinal plants find mention in books only (written years ago) and so do rare species like the Ibex (snow goat) and snow leopard. We want to make available some recent data on their availability,” said Kothiyal.

The men will be climbing up around 4500 to 5500m and Kothiyal says “They will photograph and videograph all the rare flora and fauna they come across.

The Gangotri Glacier is a traditional Hindu pilgrimage site. Unfortunately researchers have found that the glacier is retreating possibly due to climate change.

Full article here.

“Retreat of the Gangotri Glacier and climate change”. Article by NASA’s Earth Observatory