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There have been around nine snow leopard conflict cases reported in Ladakh during the April and May months of national lockdown where the Snow Leopards have killed or attacked livestock in village corrals, according to the wildlife protection department of Jammu and Kashmir.

Snow Leopards getting closer

  • Snow leopards and Himalayan brown bears have been seen to be moving about more freely closer to habitation compared to 2018 and 2019.
  • The recent conflicts may be linked to less movement of humans during lockdown.
  • Snow Leopards do not find enough prey in high altitudes and so tend to come down, especially during February to March (the mating season) and then the birthing season in May to July as they are tired and look for food during this time.
  • The environment ministry has asked Wildlife Institute of India to study the impact of lockdown on wildlife.

Snow leopard

IUCN Vulnerable Snow Leopard
  • The snow leopard is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia.
  • It is listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List.
  • The snow leopard, like all big cats, is listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES), which makes trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in CITES signatory countries.
  • Global population is estimated to number less than 10,000 mature Snow Leopards.
  • It inhabits alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m.
  • It is threatened by poaching and habitat destruction following infrastructural developments.

Snow Leopards in India

  • In India, their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.
  • The last three states form part of the Eastern Himalayas – a priority global region of WWF and the Living Himalayas Network Initiative.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It promotes an inclusive and participatory approach to conservation that fully involves local communities.
  • 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. This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states, namely, Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.

-Source: Hindustan Times

February 2024