Wildlife Conservation Efforts

India has 718 snow leopards; most of them live in unprotected areas: Centre


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level : Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India

Mains level : urgent need for increased legal protection and a dedicated conservation approach

Central Idea:

The report on the status of snow leopards in India, released by the Government of India and non-profit organizations, reveals that only 34% of the snow leopard habitat is legally protected. With snow leopards present in the country, the report emphasizes the need for a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell at the Wildlife Institute of India for long-term population monitoring and conservation efforts.

Key Highlights:

  • Snow Leopard Population: India is home to snow leopards, and their habitat covers square kilometers.
  • Legal Protection: Only a third of the snow leopard habitat in India is legally protected, posing a significant threat to the species.
  • Unprotected Areas: Nearly 70% of the crucial snow leopard habitat remains unprotected, highlighting the need for conservation measures.
  • Population Assessment: The four-year assessment conducted by SPAI using camera traps identified unique individuals.
  • Hotspots: Ladakh has the highest number of snow leopards, followed by Uttarakhand and Himachal Pradesh.

Key Challenges:

  • Limited Legal Protection: The majority of snow leopard habitat lacks legal safeguards, exposing them to potential threats.
  • Undefined Range: The absence of an extensive nationwide analysis has left the snow leopard range in India undefined.
  • Population Estimate: The need for a revised estimate arises, challenging the previous range of snow leopards in India.

Key Terms and Phrases:

  • Snow Leopard Cell: Proposed dedicated unit for long-term monitoring and conservation efforts.
  • SPAI: The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India, coordinating the assessment.
  • Camera Traps: Utilized for capturing images of snow leopards at locations.
  • Vulnerable: Snow leopards are classified as ‘Vulnerable’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature Red List.

Key Quotes:

  • “The snow leopard range in India remained undefined due to lack of an extensive nationwide analysis.”
  • “Regular assessments will offer valuable insights for identifying challenges, addressing threats, and formulating effective conservation strategies.”

Key Statements:

  • The report emphasizes the necessity of a Snow Leopard Cell for effective conservation strategies.
  • Regular population assessments are crucial for understanding challenges and threats to snow leopards.

Key Examples and References:

  • The report cites Ladakh, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh as hotspots for snow leopards.
  • SPAI, with partners like the Wildlife Institute of India, conducted the assessment using camera traps.

Key Facts and Data:

  • Snow leopard occupancy was recorded in square kilometers, with an estimated presence in square kilometers.

Critical Analysis:

The report underscores the urgent need for increased legal protection and a dedicated conservation approach, citing the inadequacy of the previous population estimate and the undefined snow leopard range. The increased coverage of the region compared to 2016 is noted, but challenges persist, requiring immediate attention.

Way Forward:

  • Establish Snow Leopard Cell: Create the proposed Snow Leopard Cell for consistent monitoring and organized studies.
  • Regular Assessments: Adopt a periodic population estimation approach every fourth year for continuous insights.
  • Legal Safeguards: Increase legal protection for the remaining unprotected snow leopard habitat.
  • Revised Population Estimate: Conduct a revised assessment to accurately determine the snow leopard population in India.
  • Public Awareness: Increase public awareness to garner support for snow leopard conservation efforts.

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