6 August 2020.
Uttarakhand State Forest Department and UNDP is set to open India’s first conversation centre for snow leopards in Uttarakashi district soon.
Aim of the Project:
- The goal of setting up the centre is conservation, restoration of Himalayan ecosystems, and creating livelihoods for local people.
- The project also aims at the conservation of other endangered species along with the snow leopards.
- There are around 86 snow leopards in Uttarakhand right now. The state forest department is expected to start a counting with the help of camera traps later this year.
- This global snow leopard project seeks to identify at least 20 landscapes and secure them as protected areas for the species by the end of 2020.
- The centre will come up at Lanka in Bhairoghhati area of Uttarkashi forest division.
- This area will be divided into 80 grids of 15 sqkm each.
- The exercise will involve looking into factors such as habitat, prey base, threats and favorable conditions for species to thrive.
- Snow leopards are found in Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Gangotri National Park, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary and other places of altitude between 3000-4500 meters in total geographical area of around 13,000 square kilometres. .
- India has identified three such landscapes ranging around 47,000 sq km of area- Hemis-Spiti in Himachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir, Gangotri-Nanda Devi in Uttarakhand, and Kanchendzonga-Tawang in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Snow leopards are one of the most enigmatic wild cat species due to their reclusive nature, and are also known as the ‘Ghost of the Mountains’.
About Snow leopard Conservation in India:
- In 2017, the central government had launched the six-year ‘SECURE Himalaya’ project, to support the conservation of the significant biodiversity of the mountain regions. The project also included conservation projects of animals and forest resources spread over Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.
- The first National Protocol on Snow Leopard Population Assessment was launched on 23rd October which marks the International Snow Leopard Day.
- The survey was held in states/UTs of Ladhak, Himachal Pradesh,Jammu and Kashmir,Sikkim,Uttarakhand and Arunchal Pradesh.
- The launch also marked the inauguration of 4th Steering Committee meeting of GSLEP Programme.
About GSLEP Programme:
- GSLEP Programme is Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme.
- It is an inter- governmental alliance of all 12 snow leopard range countries.
- This includes China, Bhutan, Nepal, Mongolia, India, Pakistan, Russia, Uzbekistan,Tajikistan, Kazkasthan Krygyzsthan and Afghanistan.
- The programme mainly focuses on the need of awareness and understanding the value of snow leopard in an ecosysytem.
- It is organised by Ministry of Environment.
About Snow Leopard:
- They are classified as Vulnerable in IUCN list.
- It is included in the Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife ( Protection Act) 1972.