SNOW LEOPARD

INTRODUCTION

  • During the National Board for Wildlife meeting in New Delhi, Union Minister Bhupender Yadav released the first-ever Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) report.
  • SPAI is India’s first scientific exercise, reporting 718 snow leopards.

Implementation and Arrangements:

  • The SPAI programme was run by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII).
  • Snow leopard range states collaborated with organisations like WWF-India and the Nature Conservation Foundation.

Geographical coverage;

  • SPAI covered nearly 70% of possible snow leopard habitat.
  • Encompassed approximately 120,000 km2 of critical habitat in the trans-Himalayan area, including the UTs of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Techniques:

  • The study was carried out in two stages between 2019 and 2023.
  • Assessing spatial distribution and taking habitat variables into account was the first stage.
  • In a second step, camera traps in designated zones were used to determine abundance.

State-wise Population Estimates:

  • Ladakh: 477
  • Uttarakhand: 124
  • Himachal Pradesh: 51
  • Arunachal Pradesh: 36
  • Sikkim: 21
  • Jammu and Kashmir: 9
  • Conservation efforts:
  • recommends periodic population estimation for states and UTs within the snow leopard range every four years.
  • It aims to provide useful insights for tackling difficulties and developing effective conservation measures.

snow leopards

About

  • Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are large cats that live in the mountains of Central and South Asia.
  • Recognised for their typical speckled coat, which allows them to blend in with rocky terrain.

Geographical Range:

  • distributed among 12 nations, including Tajikistan, Uzbekistan, Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, and Pakistan.

primarily live in rocky alpine and subalpine regions.

Status of Conservation:

  • The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List classifies this species as “vulnerable”.
  • Appendix I of CITES contains Schedule-I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act of 1972.
  • CITES: Appendix I.
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Schedule-I.

Conservation in India:

  • Flagship Species: According to the Indian government, the snow leopard is a flagship species for the high-altitude Himalayas.
  • The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme, or GSLEP : Since 2013, India has been a party to the GSLEP, partnering on global efforts to conserve snow leopards.
  • HimalSanrakshak is a community volunteer programme that was started in October 2020 with the goal of preserving snow leopards.
  • National Protocol:  Launched in 2019, the First National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment has proven useful for population monitoring.
  • SECURE Himalaya: This Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) project aims to lessen local populations’ reliance on the natural ecosystem and conserve high-altitude biodiversity.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL);Launched in 2009 advocates for a comprehensive and collaborative strategy for the preservation of snow leopards and their natural environments.
  • The snow leopard is one of the 21 severely endangered species included in the Ministry of Environment, Forests, and Climate Change’s recovery strategy.
  • Conservation Breeding: The Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park in Darjeeling, West Bengal, is home to a snow leopard conservation breeding programme.

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