This global snow leopard project seeks to identify at least 20 landscapes and secure them as protected areas for the species till the year 2020.
DEHRADUN: Uttarakhand state forest department will open India’s first conversation centre for snow leopards in Uttarakashi district soon, said Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat.
“The centre will come up at Lanka in Bhairoghhati area of Uttarkashi forest division. The decision will help to conserve the precious species,” added the CM after chairing a meeting with state forest minister.
According to estimates, Uttarakhand has around 86 snow leopards. The state forest department is expected to start snow leopard estimation process with the help of camera traps from September this year.
The exercise which is being termed as the first-ever in the country by experts got delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
In Uttarakhand, 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.
The animal is considered to be one of the most enigmatic wild cat species due to its reclusive nature which has earned it a title of ‘Ghost of the Mountains’.
“This area will be divided into 80 grids of 15 sqkm each to viver the ground. The exercise will involve looking into factors such as habitat, prey base, threats and favorable conditions for species to thrive,” said Ranjan Mishra, additional principal chief conservator of forest for wildlife of Uttarakhand.
Earlier, in October 2019, the first national protocol for snow leopard population assessment in five Himalayan states including Uttarakhand ‘Snow leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) was released by the union environment ministry.
Keeping in view the reduction in the global population of the big cat estimated between 4000-6500, the first international steering committee meeting to step up conservation efforts for the animal was organized in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in March 2015 of which India is a signatory too.
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.
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.