Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Bhupendra Yadav, Released an important report on the status of snow leopards in India. This groundbreaking study is part of Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Programme, This is the first scientific exercise to assess the population of this elusive species in the country.
Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program
SPAI, a rigorous and systematic effort, reports the presence of 718 snow leopards in India. This program was conducted by Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and is supported by snow leopard range states, Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru and WWF-India.
Comprehensive coverage and methodology
SPAI covered 70% of the potential snow leopard habitat in India, spread around 120,000 km2 In the trans-Himalayan region. The states and union territories (UTs) included in the study were Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Conducted from 2019 to 2023, the assessment used a two-phase framework that included spatial distribution assessment and abundance estimation through camera traps.
efforts and conclusions
SPAI involved extensive fieldwork, surveying 13,450 km of trails for signs of snow leopard and surveying 1,971 camera trap locations for 180,000 trap nights. The exercise recorded the presence of snow leopards in 93,392 km2 and estimated their presence in 100,841 km2. A total of 241 unique snow leopards were photographed, with population estimates varying across states.
State wise population estimates
The estimated population distribution is as follows:
- Ladakh: 477 snow leopards
- Uttarakhand: 124 snow leopards
- Himachal Pradesh: 51 snow leopards
- Arunachal Pradesh: 36 snow leopards
- Sikkim: 21 snow leopards
- Jammu and Kashmir: 9 Snow Leopards
Increase focus on understanding and research
Before 2016, research on snow leopards in India was limited, focusing on only one-third of their range. Recent surveys have expanded knowledge to cover about 80% of the snow leopard range, compared to 56% in 2016.
Proposed snow leopard cell and future monitoring
The report suggests setting up a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell in WII under MoEFCC, which will focus on long-term population monitoring. It recommends states and union territories to adopt the periodic population estimation approach every four years. Regular assessments are important to formulate effective conservation strategies and ensure the long-term survival of snow leopards.
Important questions related to exam
- Who released the report on the status of snow leopards in India as part of the SPAI programme?
- According to SPAI, what is the number of snow leopards in India?
- Which organization coordinated the SPAI program for snow leopard assessment?
- More than what percentage of the potential snow leopard habitat in India is covered by SPAI?
- Which regions and states were included in the SPAI Snow Leopard assessment?
- How many kilometers of trails were surveyed and camera trap locations used in SPAI?
- What is the estimated number of snow leopard population in Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Jammu and Kashmir?
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