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India’s Snow leopard UPSC NOTE

 India’s Snow leopard

  • Found in the high-altitude regions (3,000 to 4,500 meters).

  • In the Indian Himalayas, across five states: Jammu & Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, and Arunachal Pradesh.

  • Prefer rugged terrains with rocky slopes and sparse vegetation, offering excellent camouflage with their grey rosetted fur.

  • Estimated potential habitat in India is around 90,000 sq km, but only about 34,000 sq km is considered good quality habitat.

  • Recent surveys estimate India's snow leopard population to be around 718 individuals, with Ladakh harboring the most (477).

  •  Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List

Threats

  • Poaching for fur and body parts.

  • Habitat loss and fragmentation from infrastructure development and resource extraction.

  • Competition with livestock for prey, leading to conflict with herders.

  • Climate change impacting their fragile ecosystem.

Survey details

  • India has an estimated 718 snow leopards in the wild.

  • Its according to a first-of-its kind, four-year-long estimation exercise, the results of which were made public on Tuesday.

  • The snow leopard is known to be an elusive cat and located in mountainous terrain that is hard to access.

  • The exercise for the first time marks a base threshold for the animal’s numbers in India.

  • The highest number of cats was estimated to be in Ladakh (477), followed by Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (nine). 

  • The current estimate puts the number of Indian snow leopards between 10% and 15% of the global population.

  • The exercise involved setting up cameras, or camera traps, in 1,971 locations and surveying 13,450 km of trails which teams surveyed for recording signs of snow leopards such as scat, hair and other body markers

  • Much like the approach used in surveys to estimate tiger numbers, the States conducted the surveys.

  • The Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India, an autonomous body of the Union Environment Ministry, used software and statistical methods to estimate the number of individual cats that are present but not caught on camera and combined them with those caught on camera.


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