Wildlife & Biodiversity

India gets protocol to assess Snow Leopard population

No date has been set yet for process reserved only for tigers, rhinos and elephants until now

By Ishan Kukreti
Last Updated: Wednesday 23 October 2019
A snow leopards in Hemis National Park in Ladakh. Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Union environment minister Prakash Javadekar on October 23, 2019 released the Snow Leopard Population Assessment (SLPAI) at the fourth steering committee meeting of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Program (GSLEP).

“We will strive to double the snow leopards population in the world in the coming decade,” he said, commending the two-day conference.

GSLEP is a high-level intergovernmental alliance of 12 snow leopard range countries:

  • Russia
  • China
  • Mongolia
  • Kazakhstan
  • Kyrgyzstan
  • Uzbekistan
  • Tajikistan
  • India
  • Nepal
  • Bhutan
  • Afghanistan
  • Pakistan

In India, snow leopards are found in the Himalayan and trans-himalayan landscape at an elevation between 3,000 meters and 5,400 m, spanning over 100,000 square km across Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.

There have been some local assessment on the animal’s population in these states, but no national estimation, Soumitra Dasgupta, inspector-general of forest (wildlife), said.

“National-level estimation processes are done for tigers, rhinos and elephants. With this protocol, the same can be done for snow leopards,” he said at the meeting.

No date has been decided for the estimation process to begin yet.

Only 2 per cent of the total habitat of snow leopards have been sampled for population estimation due to difficult terrain and an elusive nature of snow leopards, according to SLPAI document.

It has been prepared by the Wildlife Institute of India, Nature Conservation Foundation, GSLEP technical committee, Global Tiger Initiative council, World Wide Fund for Nature, World Bank, Global Tiger Forum, and Wildlife Conservation Trust. 

The meeting was being attended by ministers from Nepal, Russia, Kyrgyzstan and Mongolia and senior officials from nine countries. The meeting was chaired by Nepal and co-chaired by Kyrgyzstan.

Delegates are slated to discuss sustainable development efforts to be made in snow leopard habitats and take into consideration green economic development, innovative conservation financing and population assessment of global Snow Leopards.

The committee is also due to assess efforts in combating poaching and illegal wildlife trade.

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