- 23 Apr 2021
- 4 min read
Why in News
Just days before celebrating Earth Day, the internet was going viral over a photo of a snow leopard.
- Scientific Name: Panthera uncia
- Top Predator: Snow leopards act as an indicator of the health of the mountain ecosystem in which they live, due to their position as the top predator in the food web.
- Mountainous regions of central and southern Asia.
- In India, their geographical range encompasses:
- Western Himalayas: Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh.
- Eastern Himalayas: Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
- Snow Leopard capital of the world: Hemis, Ladakh.
- Hemis National Park is the biggest national park in India and also has a good presence of Snow Leopard.
- Protection Status:
- The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of the Threatened Species.
- In addition, it is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
- Making trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in signatory countries.
- It is listed in Schedule I of the Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972.
- It is also listed in the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS), affording the highest conservation status to the species, both globally and in India.
- It is also protected by several national laws in its range countries.
- Conservation Efforts by India:
- The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas.
- India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
- HimalSanrakshak: It is a community volunteer programme, to protect snow leopards, launched in October 2020.
- In 2019, First National Protocol was also launched on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations.
- SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem.
- Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
- Snow Leopard is on the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
- Snow Leopard conservation breeding programme is undertaken at Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling, West Bengal.
Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme
- The GSLEP is a high-level inter-governmental alliance of all the 12 snow leopard range countries.
- The snow leopard countries namely, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- It majorly focuses on the need for awareness and understanding of the value of Snow Leopard for the ecosystem.
Living Himalaya Network Initiative
- Living Himalayas Initiative (LHI) is established as one of WWF’s global initiatives to bring about transformational conservation impact across the three Eastern Himalayan countries of Bhutan, India (North-East) and Nepal.
- Objectives of LHI include adapting to climate change, connecting to habitat and saving iconic species.