Context: Speaking at the International Snow Leopard Day 2020 through a virtual meeting, the Minister of State for Environment said the government is committed to landscape restoration for snow leopard habitat conservation.

More on the news:

  • Community volunteer programme “Himal Sanrakshak” was launched followed by the release of origami notebooks based on the theme of combating illegal trade in wildlife.

About Snow Leopard

The geographical range of the species:

  • The snow leopard is found in 12 countries — India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan.
  • The snow leopard is found along the upper reaches of the Himalayan range and, in India, it is found in Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

Conservation status:

  • IUCN: Vulnerable
  • Wildlife Protection Act,1972: Schedule I
  • CITES: Appendix I


Snow leopard conservation efforts in India:

  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in 2009
    • It promotes an inclusive and participatory approach to conservation that fully involves local communities.
    • In line with other projects, this initiative exclusively focuses on developing landscape-based management plans, habitat restoration plans, livelihoods improvement, mitigation of wildlife crime and illegal trade in wildlife, human-wildlife conflict mitigation strategies, improving awareness and communications strategies.
  • Status of a flagship species: The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high-altitude Himalayas.
  • Identification of three large landscapes: 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. 
  • The government also hosted the 4th Steering Committee of the GSLEP program in October 2019 in New Delhi. 
    • This meeting resulted in the “New Delhi Statement” of strengthening the resolve of the snow leopard range countries towards conservation of the mountain ecosystems of Central and South Asia.
  • Population monitoring:  

First National Protocol was also launched last year on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations.

Image Source: WildlifeZones