Royal Bengal Tiger spotted at 3640 metres in Sikkim’s Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary

Sikkim's Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary
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In a thrilling discovery, a Royal Bengal Tiger was spotted near Goru Jurey in the Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary in Sikkim at an altitude of 3,640 metres (11,942 feet). This is the first recorded sighting of a tiger at such a high altitude in the Himalayas, exceeding previous records of 3,630 metres, in Arunachal’s Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary and 3,400 metres in Uttarakhand’s Kedarnath Sanctuary.

The sighting was captured by cameras set up by scientists from the Bombay Natural History Society with support from the Sikkim Forest Department. Earlier this year, following the completion of sign surveys in the sanctuary, cameras were installed at various elevations, ranging from 2300 meters to 4100 meters.

The team captured footage of the majestic animal, which appears to be healthy and well-adapted to the harsh conditions at the high altitude. The images were actually captured in February this year, but made public now only after checking earlier published records.

The Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary spread over 128 square kilometers, is located at the tri-junction of Sikkim, Bengal, and Bhutan, making it a vital habitat for a variety of wildlife, including tigers, leopards, red pandas, and takins. The sanctuary is also home to a diverse range of plant life, including rhododendrons, orchids, and medicinal plants.

The presence of tiger in this area indicates that tigers have been using the upper areas of the sanctuary as a corridor to enter the forests of north Sikkim from Bhutan. Earlier sightings in the North Sikkim also suggest that the region has been serving as a corridor for tigers to move between different sanctuaries.

P Sathiyaselvam, deputy director and head of BNHS Wetlands and Flyways Programme said, “Now, we can say that this is highest point in India where a tiger has been sighted.”

As of now, Bhutan has been home to world’s highest altitude tigers, at over 4,000 metres. The sighting of the Royal Bengal Tiger at such a high altitude in India highlights the need for comprehensive understanding of tiger movement. Long-term intensive monitoring studies are required for understanding and protecting this high-altitude corridor.

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