50 Himalayan ibex spotted in rare sighting in Gilgit-Baltistan’s Hunza Valley

LAHORE, (MANEND NEWS): The World Wildlife Fund – Pakistan captured rare footage of about 50 Himalayan ibex near Passu Glacier in Hunza Valley, The News reported Thursday.

The Himalayan ibex is indigenous to Pakistan’s Himalayan and Karakoram range.

WWF-Pakistan’s team captured the footage with a local wildlife photographer to understand how communities have protected wildlife in the area, a press statement by the WWF-Pakistan read.

Recording such a large number of Himalayan ibex on film in Gilgit-Baltistan is a rare sight hinting at a healthy ecosystem that can support large predators such as snow leopards, lynx and wolves.

On their journey to film the habitat and associated wildlife of Passu Glacier, the team came across ibex tracks down the precipitous mountain ridges.

The species can be found at an altitude of about 3,660 to over 5,000 metres and usually comes down to 2,135 metres due to snow and in search of food in the winter season.

Wildlife filmmaker Nyal Mueenuddin, WWF-Pakistan and local photographer Imtiaz Ahmed filmed a herd of at least 50 Himalayan ibex, including females with their yearlings in Khyber village, Hunza Valley.

Threats to ibex population

The ibex population faces numerous threats across its range in Pakistan, from habitat loss to illegal hunting, climate change, and lack of awareness about the species.

According to Imtiaz Ahmed, “When it comes to filming wildlife, being patient is of paramount importance and one should not get discouraged by harsh weather conditions or difficult terrain. It is because we had patience that we were lucky enough to film this rare sight,” Ahmed said, adding that we should do as much as we can to protect the beautiful wildlife in these areas so that our next generation can witness and experience their existence.

“My hope is that through my pictures and footage, I can raise awareness among the public about animals that inhabit our northern areas. It is time for us to be one with nature and do what we can to protect it,” he said.

WWF-Pakistan Senior Director Programmes Rab Nawaz said that after more than three decades, it can be reported that the population of ibex is increasing. “The sighting of such a large herd is a welcome indicator of the conservation success of WWF in its fiftieth year in Pakistan,” he said.

WWF initiated a research-based project in Bar Valley, Nagar district, Gilgit-Baltistan in 1990 with the Aga Khan Rural Support Programme (AKRSP) to protect the Himalayan ibex, its associated wildlife species and their habitat.

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