Blue Sheep. (Screengrab from Mark Horrell's Youtube)
KATHMANDU: The blue sheep census has been halted in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area in Taplejung district over COVID-19 risk.
The program of counting the blue sheep has been affected by the prohibition of entry in the Olangchunggola and Yangma areas of the Taplejung district.
A technical team mobilized from the Kanchenjunga Area office for the purpose is stranded at Lelep, said Ganesh Prasad Tiwari, the Chief Conservation Officer.
“Entry of people has been fully halted at Olangchunggola and Yangma areas to prevent the spread of COVID-19. So, the team cannot enter these areas for blue sheep census,” he said.
The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) has provided one million rupees to the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area Management Council for the blue sheep census.
WWF and the Council last month signed a program agreement worth Rs 4 million for observation of blue sheep and conservation of snow leopard. The term of the program is until the coming mid-July.
A blue sheep census conducted in the area six years back counted 2,200 blue sheep.
Meanwhile, the number of snow leopards is supposed to have increased in the Kanchenjunga Conservation Area.
The last count conducted 18 years back had recorded 12 snow leopards in the Area and it is projected to have reached to at least 29 at present.