India Prepares Wild Snow Leopard Census
As many as 12 different states that form the range snow leopards roam have decided to cooperate and undertake the herculean task of a global count of the high-altitude apex predator as they seek to double the critically endangered species population. Prakash Javadekar India’s Minister for Environmental, Forests and Climate Change said in a speech last year at the fourth steering committee of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) that the country had finalised a national population assessment for the species in the country.
Mr Javadekar said once there has been a total count of snow leopards in all the range countries the goal will an attempt to double the population of the endangered species which is critical for ecosystems. The 12 range countries include India, China, Russia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Krgyzstan, Nepal, Bhutan, Uzbekistan and Kazakhstan. The snow leopard is in a battle for survival and it is estimated there are no more than 7,500 in the mountain ranges of South and Central Asia.
The snow leopard is facing greater pressure as a result of habitat loss and is considered to be the top predator in the Himalayas and is classified as ‘vulnerable species’ by the IUCN Red List of threatened species. India’s snow leopard programme estimates the country serves as home to at least 700 snow leopards in the Himalayan states and it is believed the country has the largest number of wild snow leopards after China and Mongolia. Unfortunately, there are is no exact count available just yet.
Tiger conservation has been successful
Mr Javaedkar says whilst the exercise to get an exact count of wild snow leopards, India has already done so with wild tigers. The country serves as home to 2,967 tigers or 77 per cent of the global wild tiger population. As the country did with tigers it will do the same with snow leopard conservation the Minister said. He adds a separate programme will be created for snow leopard conservation which will include green pathways in its Himalayan regions.
The battle can be won
The Minister concluded by saying he is confident the battle against climate change can be won by conserving nature and the animal kingdom. This includes both tigers and snow leopards as well as making a commitment to leave a better planet for the next generation. The discussions, debate and cooperation between the range countries will help them all move ahead in nature conservation.