Milestone Snow Leopard Population Report Released/ANI
Milestone Snow Leopard Population Report Released, Highest In Ladakh
In a groundbreaking development, the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) unveiled the results of the first-ever scientific exercise, the Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) program. The report, released by Union Minister Bhupender Yadav during the National Board for Wildlife meeting in New Delhi, disclosed that a remarkable 718 snow leopards were identified.
Comprehensive Survey Covers Crucial Snow Leopard Habitat
The SPAI program, coordinated by WII with the collaboration of snow leopard range states and conservation partners, covered over 70% of the potential snow leopard range in India. This expansive assessment encompassed approximately 120,000km² of vital snow leopard habitat across the trans-Himalayan region, spanning Union territories like Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, as well as states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Meticulous Two-Step Framework Utilized for Snow Leopard Estimation
The comprehensive exercise, conducted from 2019 to 2023, employed a meticulous two-step framework for accurate snow leopard estimation. Trail surveys covering 13,450 km recorded snow leopard signs, while camera traps at 1,971 locations amassed 180,000 trap nights. A total of 241 unique snow leopards were photographed, contributing to robust data analysis.
State-Wise Estimated Snow Leopard Populations Revealed
Breaking down the estimated population, the report outlined the state-wise figures, showcasing Ladakh leading with 477 snow leopards, followed by Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (9). This detailed assessment fills a significant knowledge gap as the snow leopard range in India was undefined until recent years, necessitating nationwide surveys for this vulnerable species.
Additionally, the report emphasized the establishment of a dedicated snow leopard cell at the Wildlife Institute of India under the Ministry. The proposed cell would focus on long-term population monitoring, supported by well-structured study designs and consistent field surveys. Regular assessments, recommended every fourth year, aim to provide insights for addressing challenges, mitigating threats, and formulating effective conservation strategies.