In order to gain a greater understanding of how climate change is affecting large mammals, the Forest and Environment Department of the Government of Sikkim, in partnership with the Wildlife Institute of India (WII), jointly installed video traps throughout Sikkim’s high-altitude regions.
The Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) team, working with the Sikkim Forest department to undertake a study in the sanctuary, used trap cameras to catch a glimpse of the Royal Bengal Tiger. In the process of obtaining the images from the camera traps, several higher-altitude tiger captures were recently noticed from Kyongnosla and Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary.
At 3966 metres, a male tiger from higher-altitude captures in Kyongnosla in the Gangtok area set a national record and the second-highest record ever recorded worldwide, after Bhutan.
A tiger was observed in North Sikkim (3602 m) earlier in 2019 and in Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary (3640 m) in 2023. The Indian bison, or gaur, was first seen at a height of 3568 metres from Pangolakha Wildlife Sanctuary, setting a world record. The sighting of gaur at these elevations is an unusual observation, as they typically stay below 1800 metres.
Located at the meeting point of Sikkim, Bengal, and Bhutan, the Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary spans 128 square kilometres. It is Sikkim’s largest wildlife sanctuary. The Pangalokha Wildlife Sanctuary is linked to the Bhutanese woodlands and the West Bengali Neora Valley National Park. Many different animals can be found in the sanctuary, such as Himalayan black bears, Himalayan musk deer, red pandas, snow leopards, and gorals.
It should be noted that the Gaur, the largest cattle species in the world, is endemic to south and southeast Asia, with the majority of its population living in India. Due to its importance as prey for large carnivores including tigers, common leopards, and Asiatic wild dogs, gaur plays a significant role in the food chain.
The Himalayan Black Bear, Musk Deer, Sambar, Dhole or wild dog, Goral, Mithun, and Serow are among the other species captured on camera in the traps.