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DAILY NEWS ANALYSIS

  • 26 July, 2022

  • 8 Min Read

SNOW LEOPARD

SNOW LEOPARD

  • A study on snow leopards has thrown up interesting insights into the elusive mountain cat and its prey species by the Zoological Survey of India.
  • The studies highlighted the relationship between habitat uses by Snow Leopard, Siberian ibex and blue sheep under the National Mission on Himalayan by Zoological Survey of India.
  • It mainly aimed at examining how the predator used habitat in the presence or absence of its prey species and vice-versa.

The key highlight of the study

  • It was found that the likelihood of detecting a snow leopard will increase if the place is also a habitat for its prey species like ibex and blue sheep.
  • In the case of prey species, the probability of detection was low when the predator (snow leopard) was present and observed.
  • Further, both species were less likely to detect together than expected.
  • According to the study, habitat variables such as barren area, grassland, aspect, slope, and distance to water were major drivers of habitat use for both the snow leopard and its prey species.
  • Predators such as snow leopards regulate the populations of herbivores such as blue sheep and Siberian ibex in the mountains, protecting the health of grasslands.
  • A long-term absence of snow leopards could cause trophic cascades as unregulated populations would likely increase, depleting vegetation cover.
  • Knowledge of the species' interactions will be beneficial in building better conservation and management plans for the long-term sustainability of the snow leopard and its prey species in the Spiti Valley ecosystem.

About snow leopard

  • Scientific Name - Panthera uncia.
  • Habitat - Cold High Mountains.
  • The elegant and well-camouflaged snow leopard is one of the world’s most elusive cats.
  • These are found in 12 countries including China, Bhutan, Nepal, India, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Russia & Mongolia.
  • China has the world's largest snow leopard population.

Diet

  • Snow leopards are top predators in their environment and their prey include blue sheep, Argali wild sheep, ibex, marmots, pikas, hares, etc.
  • They are also able to kill prey up to three-time own weight in challenging terrain.

Threats:

  • Increased conflict due to expansion of human settlement & livestock grazing and mainly due to habitat loss and fragmentation.
  • Poaching for trade in body parts and fur.
  • Climate change & shrinkage in habitat.???????

Protection status

  • IUCN List of Threatened Species - Vulnerable.
  • CITES - Appendix I.
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972-Schedule-I.

Indian government initiative to protect the snow leopard

  • 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 Programme since 2013.
  • HimalSanrakshak - It is a community volunteer programme, to protect the 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 the populations.
  • SECURE Himalaya: Global Environment Facility (GEF)-United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) funded the project on the conservation of high-altitude biodiversity and reducing the dependency of local communities on the natural ecosystem.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in the year 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserving 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 mainly at the Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling, West Bengal

Read also - MONARCH BUTTERFLIES

Source: The Hindu

  • 28 February, 2021

  • 5 Min Read

Snow Leopard

Snow Leopard

  • Also known as Ghost of the mountains acts as an indicator of the health of the mountain ecosystem in which they live, due to their position as the top predator in the food web.
  • Habitation: The Snow Leopard lives at high altitudes in the steep mountains of Central and Southern Asia, and in an extremely cold climate.
  • They inhabit the higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in the states/union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
  • India is a unique country to have a good presence of 5 big cats, including the Snow Leopard. The other 4 are Lion, Tiger, Common Leopard, and Clouded Leopard.
  • Snow Leopard capital of the world: Hemis, Ladakh.
  • Hemis National Park is the biggest national park in India and also has a good presence of Snow Leopard.

Protection:

  • IUCN Red List- Vulnerable
  • Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES)- Appendix I
  • Convention on Migratory Species (CMS)- Appendix I
  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972- Schedule I

Conservation Efforts Launched by India:

  • HimalSanrakshak: It is a community volunteer programme, to protect snow leopards, launched on 23rd 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 the 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.
  • Project Snow Leopard (PSL): It was launched in 2009 to promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.

Source: TH


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