Camera traps give hope for the snow leopard in Kashmir
Ecology and Environment
11th Nov, 2022
The first-ever recording of the snow leopard from the Baltal-Zojila region has renewed the hope for the elusive predator in the higher altitudes of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
- It is the first record of a snow leopard from the Baltal-Zojila area.
- The snow leopard is a good indicator species as it quickly reacts to habitat disturbances.
- The camera trapping techniques have also raised hopes for other important and rare species such as the Asiatic ibex, brown bear and Kashmir musk deer in the upper reaches of the northernmost part of India.
- The beautiful Baltal Valley is nestled along the banks of the Sindh River near Sonamarg. This valley lies on the foot of Zoji La – the high mountain pass in the Himalayas of Kashmir.
About Snow Leopard:
- Snow leopards (Panthera uncia) are considered medium-sized cats, standing about 24 inches at the shoulder and weighing around 30-55kg.
- Habitat: Snow leopards can be found throughout high mountain ranges, including the Himalayas and the southern Siberian Mountains in Russia. They can also be found in the Tibetan Plateau and across a range that stretches from China to the mountains of Central Asia.
- In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.
- Threats: Poaching, mining, scarcity of food, climate change
- The snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN-World Conservation Union’s Red List of 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.
Conservation Efforts by India:
- Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
- India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
- 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 the conservation of high-altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem.
- Recovery programme: Snow Leopard is on the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.