India launches first protocol to count snow leopard population
New Delhi: Union forest minister Prakash Javadekar launched on Wednesday, the country’s first national protocol for enumerating the population of snow leopards, an elusive predator found in the higher reaches of the Himalayas and other mountain ranges of Asia, on Wednesday.
“Enumeration of tigers was a difficult task 20 years ago but we made it possible. India now has 77% of the world’s tiger population. I am sure, with the cooperation of the range countries, the population of snow leopards will also be doubled in the coming decade,” Javadekar said at the fourth steering committee meeting of the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Program on International Snow Leopard Day, celebrated on Wednesday.
Although no count of the endangered big cats have been conducted, estimates provided by various organisations working on snow leopard conservation suggest that there could be around 400- 700 of the predators spread across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh and Jammu and Kashmir.
An official at the union ministry of environment and forest said on condition of anonymity that around 500 of these cats could be in the Ladakh region alone.
“India is extremely keen on snow leopard conservation,... but better ecosystem (management) and more intervention in creating a better habitat for the snow leopard is what we should strive for. It is extremely important to conserve the pristine habitat of the snow leopard because these mountain ranges are also the source of water for us,” said CK Mishra, union environment and forest secretary.
According to the Javadekar, India is now home to around 512 lions, 30,000 elephants and 2,500 one-horned rhinoceros. The number of tigers in the country has also shot up to 2,967 from 2226 in 2014 ,according to the latest census figures.
An expert welcomed the protocol launched by the minister to count the snow leopards.
“This is an excellent initiative. Till date we hardly have any concrete data on their population. Only recently, some scientific studies have started for the conservation of this vulnerable species,” said Raman Sukumar, a member of the National Board for Wildlife
According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature, the population of slow leopards is decreasing and only an estimated 2,700-3300 adults are left in the wild. Climate change, shrinking habitat because of human activity and poaching are cited as some of the reasons for the decline.
According to the protocol, India will follow a two-step procedure to count these elusive cats – systematically assessing the spatial distribution of snow leopards and estimating their numbers through camera trapping and genetic evidence. According to senior officials of the ministry, this protocol could also be later used by other range countries
“India has the example and experience of enumerating its tiger population. Many of these experiences would be common for the snow leopard as well,” said Mishra.
Enter your email to get our daily newsletter in your inbox
- For the past 13 days, the Durga-Nag market at Dalgate in Srinagar has been desolate and locals and traders in grief
- TMC’s leader in the Rajya Sabha Derek O, Brien asked the Election Commission to stop the Prime Minister "from taking unfair advantages and undue publicity at tax payer’s cost during the conduct of elections".
- Ghulam Nabi Azad detractors and supporters in the Jammu and Kashmir Pradesh Committee accused each other of acting at the behest of the BJP.
- Jailed Assam leader urges parties to put up common candidates against BJP
- The capacity of major ports which was around 870 million tonnes per annum in 2014 has increased to around 1550 million tonnes per annum now, the Prime Minister said.
- Party leaders fear that dissension may heighten in the coming days-- posters and notices have started appearing at many places against probable candidates.
- The opposition Congress accused the government of "high handedness" against the protestors especially women while drawing parallels with British rule and calling it "General Dyer's government".
- “We'll send teams to poll-bound states - to West Bengal and Kerala. We will not support any party but appeal to people to vote for the candidates who can defeat BJP.", said BKU leader Balbir S Rajewal