Project launched to save endangered snow leopard (India)

SRINAGAR, FRIDAY, 14 MUHARRAM 1431 AH ; FRIDAY, JANUARY 01, 2010 CE

Project launched to save endangered snow leopard

ARIF SHAFI WANI

Srinagar, Dec 31: The State Government has started work on an ambitious project to save the existing population of the endangered Snow Leopard in its bastion, the higher reaches of Ladakh with focus on its habitat improvement. After receiving financial assistance from the Centre, the wildlife authorities have started work on the ‘Project Snow leopard’ in Ladakh. The project will span 3500 sq kms including Hemis High Altitude National Park in Ladakh. Pertinently snow leopards are mostly found in mountainous regions of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttaranchal, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim. Poached for its attractive fur, organs and bones, just 4500 to 7000 snow leopards left in the world and India is home to approximately 400 to 600 of them. However as sixty percent of snow leopards have been found in Ladakh region, it has been included in the Species Recovery Programme being funded through the umbrella scheme ‘Integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats’. “We have completed micro-planning and identified the areas with huge concentration of leopards in Ladakh. Besides we have started the process to develop infrastructure and capacity building of staff,” wildlife warden Ladakh, Saleem-ul-Haq, told Greater Kashmir. He said involvement of locals in the project, however, was imperative for its success. He said the department has approached wildlife experts from outside who will raise awareness about the leopard among the locals and the wildlife staff. Officials said hundreds of tourists visit Ladakh only to see the snow leopard. “To cash on this aspect, the project has kept a provision for eco-tourism wherein the locals will host the tourists in their houses. This will serve dual purpose of promoting tourism and snow leopard conservation through community participation,” he said. However, he maintained that leopards had no threat of poaching in Ladakh. “People here have strong religious beliefs and love for the wild animals. The only problem is that the leopards kill their livestock. We will stress on mitigating attacks on livestock,” he said. The authorities plan to install special trap cameras in highly concentrated areas of the snow leopard. “The special cameras will record the leopards’ movement and help the scientists to understand their behaviour in their natural habitat,” he said and added this will help in long-term conservation measures. Haq said freezing temperate was the only bottleneck for the project’s speedy implementation. The project includes developing grazing and management policies along with promotion of conservation and education awareness initiatives. Besides construction of Nature interpretation Centre, the project endeavours procurement of high resolution digital cameras, survey and census gadgets and equipments for handling human-wild animal conflicts. “One of the threats to the snow leopard is drastic decrease of its ungulate preys including wild sheep and goats. The project includes compensation packages for livestock depletion. It is mandatory to preserve the natural habitat of snow leopard for its conservation,” said Tahir Shawl a wildlife warden, who has worked extensively on the snow leopard. Pertinently the Project Snow Leopard was launched in January this year. It is being undertaken in five Himalayan states including Jammu and Kashmir with the support from the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) and the Mysore based Nature Conservation Foundation. The Ministry of Environment and Forests has sanctioned Rs 1.26 crore for the project. Importantly the Project Snow Leopard will be treated on a par with other flagship species programmes of the country such as Project Tiger and Project Elephant.

http://www.greaterkashmir.com/today/full_story.asp?Date=1_1_2010&ItemID=56&cat=1

2 Responses to “Project launched to save endangered snow leopard (India)”

  1. ASHIQ AHMAD KHAN Says:

    I was amazed to hear about the project. The generous support given by the Indian Government does clearly indicate the concern about the snow leopards and their survival. The issue of compensation for the livestock losses, though tricky, has been addressed already in several other situations; the lessons and approaches from such projects across the snow leopard habitats may greatly help adopt a rational approach towards solving this. I further think that there seems to be a high potential for students from Wildlife Institute to undertake field projects in various pockets of the project area. Combining their results and findings may reveal several good lessons for many more scientists, working in the Range States, to follow.
    I wish every success for this project
    Ashiq Ahmad Khan
    Pakistan

  2. Dr Ajay Raj Singh Katwal Says:

    Kudos to both Central and J & K Govt. for launching “Project Snow Leopard “in the Himalayan region a bastion to the Shy and illusive Snow Leopard.Back home our Govt. in Himachal Pradesh. have declared Snow Leopard as its STATE ANIMAL,which symbolises both the importance of the animal and sincerity of the Govt that how much it is worried /commited about this flagship species of the Himalayan region and the Habitat status itself would be an indicator about the environmental health of the whole Himalayan region.The problem of livestock loss due to S Leopard could be through insuring the livestock at meagre premium and improving the existing pastures in a scientific way to minimise pressure for the fodder amongst wild ungulates and domestic livestock.I wish this ambitious Project a great success with due community based active participation, supported and implemented by a team of dedicated officials and need based scietific approach and assistance from the conservation scientists of W.I.I.and Nature Conservation Fondation.

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