Tibetan argali sighted in Upper DolpoA group of researchers has reported the sighting last month of a young male Tibetan argali (Ovis ammon hodgsoni) in Upper Dolpo, for the first time in more than four decades.
A group of researchers has reported the sighting last month of a young male Tibetan argali (Ovis ammon hodgsoni) in Upper Dolpo, for the first time in more than four decades.
The animal locally known as Nayan is the largest of all the wild sheep in the world and was captured on camera on July 19 in Dingarsa of Charka VDC in Upper Dolpo, at an elevation of 4,796 metres above sea level.
“This is good news for Nepal. Previous studies have shown the presence of skulls of these species in Dolpo about four decades ago, but this is the first time a live animal was photographed in the region,” said Naresh Kushi, wildlife conservation officer with Friends of Nature, who along with his team members captured the animal in Dolpo.
A research paper on the distribution and status of Tibetan argali in Nepal, published in 2002 by Karan Bahadur Shah, a wildlife expert, had mentioned that the Tibetan argali was not found in any locality other than the upper Mustang area in Nepal. It used to be found in Mugu, Dolpa, Sankhuwasabha, Gorkha and Rasuwa about three-four decades ago.
“Hunting for meat and trophy, and heavy winter snows are prime factors that drove the Tibetan argalis to extinction in Dolpo in the past,” says Kushi, adding that the recent sighting indicates that some of the animals are drifting over from Tibet and are settling in Dolpo.
People of Charka told the researchers about the presence of a pair of Tibetan argalis in the area in the last four years.
“However, a pair of two individuals is not a viable resident population and is very fragile,” said Geraldine Werhahn, a member of the research team associated with the Wildlife Conservation and Research Unit at Oxford University.
This species is on the endangered list and is legally protected from killing under the National Parks and Wildlife Conservation Act. It is listed under Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species that outlaws its trade. Tibetan argalis are found also in India, Bhutan and China.