Wildlife Conservation Efforts

Species in news: Snow Leopard


From UPSC perspective, the following things are important :

Prelims level: Snow Leopard

Mains level: Not Much


The first-ever recording of the snow leopard from the Baltal-Zojila region has renewed the hope for the elusive predator in the higher altitudes of Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.

Why in news?

  • Not much is known about the number of snow leopards in J&K and Ladakh.
  • The Snow Leopard Population Assessment of India (SPAI) has been concluded so far in Himachal Pradesh and Uttarakhand.
  • The estimated population of the great cat is 50 and 100 in these two States respectively.

Snow Leopard

  • Snow leopards live in the mountainous regions of Central and Southern Asia.
  • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas, including the UTs of J&K and Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.
  • Project Snow Leopard was launched in 2009 for strengthening wildlife conservation in the Himalayan high altitudes.
  • It aims at promoting a knowledge-based and adaptive conservation framework that fully involves the local communities, who share the snow leopard’s range, in conservation efforts.

Conservation status

  • In the IUCN- Red List, the snow leopard is listed as Vulnerable.
  • In addition, the snow leopard, like all big cats, is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
  • In India, the snow leopard is listed under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, giving it the highest protection status under the country’s laws.

Conservation Efforts by India

  • The Government of India has identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas.
  • India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
  • HimalSanrakshak: It is a community volunteer programme, to protect snow leopards, launched in October 2020.
  • In 2019, First National Protocol was also launched on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations.
  • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on conservation of high altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.
  • Snow Leopard is on the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
  • Snow Leopard conservation breeding programme is undertaken at Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling, West Bengal.

Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme

  • The GSLEP is a high-level inter-governmental alliance of all the 12 snow leopard range countries.
  • The snow leopard countries namely, India, Nepal, Bhutan, China, Mongolia, Russia, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • It majorly focuses on the need for awareness and understanding of the value of Snow Leopard for the ecosystem.

Living Himalaya Network Initiative

  • Living Himalayas Initiative (LHI) is established as one of WWF’s global initiatives to bring about transformational conservation impact across the three Eastern Himalayan countries of Bhutan, India (North-East) and Nepal.
  • Objectives of LHI include adapting to climate change, connecting to habitat and saving iconic species.


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