Snow leopard is a large cat found mostly in the mountain ranges of Central and Southern Asia. With a global population of less than 10,000, Snow leopards have been listed in the IUCN’s Red list as vulnerable species. Not only this, their population is also expected to decline by 10% by 2040. They are vulnerable species as they are poached for bones, meat and fur.
They are found in the western Himalayas especially in the Indian states of Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. They are also found in Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim in the eastern Himalayas.
Also known as ounce, Snow leopards form their habitat at altitudes ranging from 3000- 5000 meters and above.
First-ever Snow Leopard Survey of India
In November 2020, India has launched its first ever Snow Leopard census. The census is being conducted by the Uttarakhand State Forest Department along with Wildlife Institute of India (WII). The Snow leopard census was to start early but was delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
As a first step of the survey, scientific measure will be considered. It will be done on the basis of sightings provided by the residents of hilly areas, who migrate to the plains during the winter, and that of paramilitary personnel. The phase 1 of the survey includes over 150 Forest staff members who have been provided with questionnaires for local residents and paramilitary personnel along with GPS and Binoculars. The first phase of the snow leopard survey will be completed by December 22. The final count and final report of the survey is expected to be out by December 2021.
According to the previous estimates available, there are 626 snow leopards scattered across a 1.2-lakh sq km. According to the estimate, there are 130 snow leopards in Ladakh, 90 snow leopards in Himachal Pradesh has and 86 in Uttarakhand.