23 October 2020.
October 23 is celebrated as World’s Snow Leopard Day every year to protect and conserve snow leopards and other wildlife of the Himalayas. It is also celebrated as International Snow Leopard Day.
- This day came into being on October 23, 2013, when 12 countries came together to endorse the ‘Bishkek Declaration’ on the conservation of snow leopards at the First Global Snow Leopard Forum that took place in Bishkek, the capital of Kyrgyzstan.
- These countries include Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- It is celebrated to protect and conserve snow leopards and other wildlife of the Himalayas.
About Snow Leopard:
- Is also known as ‘ghost of the mountains’ for its elusive nature.
- The snow leopard is the apex predators and flagship species of the Himalayas.
- These are distributed across 12 countries in central Asia and are usually found in high, rugged mountain landscapes at elevations of 3,000–4,500m.
- India is home to around 200 to 600 snow leopards in the Himalayan regions of Jammu Kashmir, Ladakh, Sikkim and Himachal Pradesh.
- A recent study has revealed that the Indian snow leopard habitat provides worth 4.20 billion dollar worth of ecosystem services every year to human settlements in and around the snow leopard landscape.
Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Programme
- It was initiated by Kyrgyzstan Government. India is a signatory of the programme. The other countries that have signed the programme are China, Uzbekistan, Russia, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Kazakhstan, Bhutan, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
- All these countries are in the Snow Leopard ranges. These countries signed the Bishek Declaration as well.
- The programme secures 20 snow leopard landscapes under the “Secure 20 by 2020” initiative.
What is a Snow Leopard Landscape?
The Snow Leopard Landscape is a region that has a minimum of 100 breeding age snow leopards with adequate support of prey population.
Snow Leopard Survey in India
The first Snow Leopard Survey in India was conducted in 2019. India has 10% of global snow leopard population.
- The IUCN Status of Snow Leopard is “vulnerable”. It was changed from “endangered” to “vulnerable” in 2017.
- It is listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972. Under CITES, it is listed in Appendix I.
Project Snow Leopard
- It was launched in 2009.
- The project was launched in states where the population of snow leopard are found.
- They are Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Sikkim, Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.
Reasons for decline in numbers:
- Several anthropogenic factors such as poaching, urbanization, illicit wildlife trade, infiltration, clubbed with a decrease in prey populations have forced this feline to the verge of extinction.
- The snow leopard’s habitat is dwindling due to the growing global temperatures and receding glaciers.
Do you know?
Ladakh is the Snow Leopard capital of the world.