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Bhupender Yadav releases the Status Report of Snow Leopards in India

Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav, released a significant report on the status of Snow leopards in India. This groundbreaking study, part of the Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program, marks the first-ever scientific exercise to assess the population of this elusive species in the country.

Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program

The SPAI, a rigorous and systematic effort, reports the presence of 718 Snow leopards in India. This program was coordinated by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and supported by snow leopard range states, the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru, and WWF-India.

Extensive Coverage and Methodology

The SPAI covered over 70% of the potential snow leopard habitat in India, spanning about 120,000 km2 across the trans-Himalayan region. States and Union Territories (UTs) included in the study were Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. Conducted from 2019 to 2023, the assessment used a two-step framework involving spatial distribution evaluation and abundance estimation through camera traps.

Efforts and Findings

The SPAI involved extensive fieldwork, with 13,450 km of trails surveyed for Snow leopard signs and 1,971 camera trap locations for 180,000 trap nights. The exercise recorded Snow leopard occupancy in 93,392 km2 and estimated their presence in 100,841 km2. A total of 241 unique Snow leopards were photographed, with population estimates varying across states.

State-wise Population Estimates

The estimated population distribution is as follows:

  • Ladakh: 477 Snow leopards
  • Uttarakhand: 124 Snow leopards
  • Himachal Pradesh: 51 Snow leopards
  • Arunachal Pradesh: 36 Snow leopards
  • Sikkim: 21 Snow leopards
  • Jammu and Kashmir: 9 Snow leopards

Increasing Understanding and Research Attention

Before 2016, research on Snow leopards in India was limited, focusing on just one-third of their range. The recent surveys have expanded knowledge to cover approximately 80% of the Snow leopard range, compared to 56% in 2016.

Proposed Snow Leopard Cell and Future Monitoring

The report suggests establishing a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell at WII under the MoEFCC, focusing on long-term population monitoring. It recommends states and UTs adopt a periodic population estimation approach every fourth year. Regular assessments are crucial for formulating effective conservation strategies and ensuring the long-term survival of Snow leopards.

Important Questions Related to Exams

  1. Who released the report on the status of Snow leopards in India as part of the SPAI Program?
  2. What is the reported number of Snow leopards in India according to the SPAI?
  3. Which organization coordinated the SPAI Program for Snow Leopard assessment?
  4. Over what percentage of potential Snow leopard habitat in India did the SPAI cover?
  5. Which regions and states were included in the SPAI Snow leopard assessment?
  6. How many kilometres of trails were surveyed and camera trap locations were used in the SPAI?
  7. What are the estimated Snow leopard population numbers in Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Jammu and Kashmir?

Kindly share your responses in the comment section!!

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