Officials of the Gangotri National Park have a reason to rejoice — the camera trap set up at the Gangotri-Gaumukh road has captured video and still images of a male and female snow leopard, confirming for the first time the existence of these cats there.

The footage in the camera recovered on December 16 showed a male snow leopard moving in the area on the night of November 18 and a female snow leopard moving around on the morning of December 2, said G.N. Yadav, Deputy Director, Gangotri National Park, on Monday. “This is fabulous and our hunt for the existence of this majestic high altitude cat along with its favourite prey — blue sheep — has paid rich dividends. The presence confirmed, we will now make extra efforts to conserve the animal.”

The conservation methods would include improving the habitat of the snow leopard and the blue sheep, he said. Regular patrol in the park would be intensified and steps taken to ensure that the grassland did not degrade. Soil conservation measures like building check dams and preventing landslides would also be taken.

The park is spread over 2300 square km between 10,000 and 22,000 feet above sea level. The 10 sq km radius surrounding it has no human habitation. The park is thus an ideal habitat, Mr. Yadav said.

A snow leopard was caught on camera in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve in 2012. That the poachers are after the snow leopards was evident when the Sashastra Seema Bal personnel seized fresh snow leopard skin from the Indo-Nepal border in Pithoragarh in March 2012. Snow leopard skin was seized in 2007 too in the same area. Wildlife lover Prem Singh Negi urged the government to immediately step up security measures in the higher reaches of Uttarakhand to save the near extinct snow leopard.