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Study on snow leopard in Himachal Pradesh

Topics Covered: Conservation related issues.

Study on snow leopard in Himachal Pradesh:


Context:

Himachal Pradesh’s high-altitude hilly terrains could be harbouring as many as 73 snow leopards (Panthera uncia), says a recent study based on a scientific enumeration of the elusive animal.

Habitats:

The snow leopard inhabits the higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in the five states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

  • In Himachal Pradesh, the snow leopard’s habitat covers a greater part of the districts of Lahaul-Spiti and Kinnaur.
  • Its potential habitat also extends into the upper regions of the districts of Shimla, Kullu, Chamba and Kangra.

Most of these areas are remote, with the added challenge of limited accessibility during winter.

Suggestions made by the study:

Local communities are the strongest allies in conservation, if their concerns can be factored into conservation planning.

Snow Leopard conservation in India:

  • India has been conserving snow leopard and its habitat through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).
  • India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
  • For conservation, India has identified three large landscapes, namely, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL) was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
  • Snow Leopard is in the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.

Protection:

  • Snow leopards are categorized as ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN and in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
  • They are listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) and the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), revealing the need for the highest conservation status to the species, both globally and in India.

Conservation efforts launched by India are:

  1. Project Snow Leopard (PSL) : It promotes an inclusive and participatory approach to conservation that fully involves local communities.
  2. SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high-altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem. This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.

InstaLinks:

Prelims Link:

  1. IUCN Conservation status of snow leopard.
  2. About Project Snow Leopard.
  3. Snow Leopards in India- distribution and conservation centres.
  4. About GSLEP.
  5. About Bishkek declaration.

Sources: the Hindu.