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India’s Snow Leopard Survey Reveals 718 Individuals

snow leopard
Snow Leopard in a snowy forest hunting for prey. Image by actionsports via Depositphotos.

India’s recent snow leopard survey has resulted in important, updated data on the elusive big cats, known as the “ghosts of the mountains.” Here’s an overview of the significant findings and implications of this comprehensive survey.

Snow Leopard Survey

snow leopard
Image by actionsports via Depositphotos.

For the first time, India undertook a national survey to estimate its snow leopard population, revealing an estimated 718 snow leopards across its Himalayan regions. This survey, conducted over four years, marks a monumental step in wildlife conservation, offering a clearer picture of the snow leopard’s status within the country’s borders.

Survey Methodology and Challenges

snow leopard
Image by JimCumming via Depositphotos.

The survey spanned over 120,000 square kilometers, incorporating nearly 2,000 camera traps to capture images of these rare predators. The endeavor covered more than 70% of potential snow leopard habitats across the Trans-Himalayan regions, including Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh. The rugged and remote mountainous landscapes posed significant challenges, yet the dedicated efforts of researchers and volunteers made it possible to gain insights into the snow leopard population.

Snow Leopard Survey Significance

snow leopard
Image by kjekol via Depositphotos.

The study not only provided a baseline for the number of snow leopards in India but also emphasized the importance of their high-altitude habitats for ecological balance. With an estimated global population of 4,500 to 7,500 individuals, snow leopards are considered vulnerable due to threats like poaching, climate change, and habitat destruction. India’s survey contributes to global efforts to assess and protect these iconic big cats, highlighting the critical need for ongoing conservation initiatives.

Conservation Implications

snow leopard close up
Image by Havranka via Depositphotos.

The results from the survey are expected to guide future conservation strategies, ensuring the protection of snow leopards and their natural habitats. It underpins the importance of continuous monitoring and research to address threats and formulate effective conservation measures. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) has proposed the establishment of a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell for long-term monitoring and conservation planning.

Moving Forward

snow leopard
Image by actionsports via Depositphotos.

India’s snow leopard survey illustrates India’s commitment to wildlife conservation as well as a global interest in protecting this vulnerable species. By providing valuable data on snow leopard populations and their habitats, the survey lays the groundwork for informed conservation actions, ensuring the survival of snow leopards for generations to come.

Read more about the survey here!

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