Uttarakhand organises winter snow leopard tours, promotes conservation
The Uttarakhand forest department has decided to begin first ever snow leopard tours in high altitude areas of Uttarkashi district to promote conservation along with sustainable tourism.
The tours will be conducted in collaboration with the state tourism department and United Nations Development Programme, which has already been working in the area through the Secure Himalaya project (aimed at promoting conservation along with improvement of livelihood opportunities).
Rajiv Bhartari, head of forest force of the Uttarakhand forest department, said, “We have already been working in the high-altitude areas through the Secure Himalaya project, where locals have been trained in adventure sports and wildlife movement. Using that, we are working to start snow leopard tours in the high-altitude areas of Uttarkashi district, where sightings of snow leopards have increased in the past few months.”
The senior forest official said that the tours will be started in the month of February and bookings will be made on a first-come, first-served basis.
"A maximum of six participants will be allowed for every tour, who will travel with medical and forest staff. These tours will increase chances of snow leopard sightings as due to peak winters all animals come down to lower reaches," added Bhartari.
Aparna Pandey, state project officer for Secure Himalayas, said, "The main objective of this initiative is to connect conservation with livelihood opportunities. With these tours, the locals will get jobs as tour operators, adventure guides, cooks. They will also naturally want to work towards conservation of the animal. This model has worked successfully in Himachal Pradesh and Ladakh."
Meanwhile, the union environment ministry on Monday tweeted, "Sustainable tourism for wildlife conservation.. through Secure Himalayas Project; Global Environment Facility, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Uttarakhand Forest Department and United Nations Development Programme are partnering with Uttarakhand Tourism Development Board to organise first ever winter snow leopard tours in Uttarakhand and promote nature-based livelihood in the Himalayas."
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