Himalayan red fox’s subspecies spotted in Uttarakhand

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Pithoragarh: A subspecies of the Himalayan red fox was spotted here at a height of 3,000 metres, officials said on Wednesday.

The variety, known as Vulpes Vulpes griffithi, was seen in Bhujani and Khaliya Top areas of Munsiyari at an elevation of 3,000 metres, some 500 metres below the altitude, where its habitat is located, for the first time in recent years, said Surendra Panwar, president of Monal NGO that has been working towards the protection of upper range Himalayan animals for around 10 years.

“We have seen at least eight subspecies of the red fox at such an elevation in the Himalayan region after following it fruitlessly for two years,” he said.

Asked about the reasons behind the increased visibility of these otherwise shy animals at lower altitudes, Panwar said it could be due to disturbance in their natural habitats.

The animals may have started coming down closer to human settlements to survive on the Himalayan leftovers, he said.

“There are different reasons of high altitude animal habitats getting disturbed, including the entry of people to collect Kira Jari (sildenafil) or Yarsagumba (caterpillar fungus), some climate change patterns and lessening of their prey base due to interference of human beings,” Panwar said.

However, Pithoragarh Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Vinay Bhargava attributed the spotting of rare high Himalayan animals like Vulpes Vulpes griffithi and flocks of Monal birds to prolonged conservation efforts.

“Due to our awareness campaign for protection of these rare animals, the number of flocks and herds of some rare Himalayan animals has increased,” he said. (PTI)