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Uttarakhand gets ₹2.21 crore under UNDP for snow leopard protection

 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released first installment of ₹2.21 crore for Uttarakhand under its SECURE project that covers four India states

dehradun Updated: Mar 30, 2018 21:53 IST
Nihi Sharma
Nihi Sharma
Hindustan Times
Snow leopard. (Photo courtesy: WII)

The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) has released first installment of ₹2.21 crore for Uttarakhand under its SECURE project that covers four India states.

Securing Livelihoods, Conservation, Sustainable Use and Restoration of High Range Himalayan Ecosystem (SECURE) aims to promote sustainable management of alpine pastures and forests in the high range Himalayan ecosystems that secures conservation of globally significant wildlife.

The hill state’s two areas - Gangotri-Govind landscape and Darma-Byans Valleys – fall under the project.

With the help of first installment, the forest department aims at initiating short term research projects to study habitat, impacts of locals, prey base and other biodiversity details.

“Research is an integral part of the project if we wish to understand the habitat, impact of grazing, anthropological pressures and other issues,” said Dhananjai Mohan, additional principal chief conservator of forest and nodal officer of the project.

The research will be conducted by several states and central institutions, including Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Forest Research Institute, Biodiversity Board, Medicinal Plant Board, Sheep and Wool Development Board and even World Wide Fund for Nature wing TRAFFIC India will conduct studies.

Gangotri is mainly surrounded by villages that depends on livestock. While grazing inside the protected area is banned, there will be researches on the impact of grazing on snow leopard habitat.

Digvijay Singh Khati, chief wildlife warden, said: “One of the component of the project is providing livelihood opportunities to locals.

“So, we need to understand the impact of grazing in the area and if the impact is negative then along with Livestock department what possible measures we could take to provide alternate livelihood to locals.”

Besides Uttarakhand, Sikkim (Kanchenjunga-Upper Teesta Valley), Jammu & Kashmir (Changthang) and Himachal Pradesh (Lahaul-Pangi and Kinnaur) are part of the project. The total funding for the project in these states is of 12 million (₹77 crore approx).

The four states aim at utilising the funds under three main components - securing livelihood opportunities of people residing in snow leopard-dominated habitat, conserving the habitat and protection of the endangered species.

Gangotri and Govind are national parks, protected areas in the upper catchment of the Bhagirathi.

A survey done in 2015 reported indirect evidence of snow leopard presence in the areas. Officials are keen on taking preventive measures to ensure protection of the species.

A 2013 report of the WII estimated 200-600 snow leopards in Uttarakhand. Over 15 snow leopards were camera-trapped by the forest department and WII in Uttarakhand -- 14 were from Gangotri landscape -- between 2000 and 2015.

First Published: Mar 30, 2018 21:53 IST