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Himachal

Posted at: Jun 17, 2019, 7:06 AM; last updated: Jun 17, 2019, 7:06 AM (IST)

Snow leopard population goes up in state

Snow leopard population goes up in state
As per the wildlife wing, there are 49 snow leopards in upper Kinnaur, Pin valley, Tabo, Tharot-Miyar, Bhaga, Chandra and upper Spiti. The process of population estimation is still under way.

Pratibha Chauhan

Tribune News Service

Shimla, June 16

The efforts of the wildlife wing of the Forest Department seems to have yielded positive results as there has been an appreciable increase in the number of the highly endangered snow leopards in the high mountain areas of the state.

Even though the process of population estimation is still underway, the staff of the wildlife wing has already recorded 49 snow leopards in upper Kinnaur, Pin Valley, Tabo, Tharot-Miyar, Bhaga, Chandra and upper Spiti landsacape. “The number of snow leopards that have been estimated in seven major areas so far is already 49 whereas the estimation is yet to be done in some other areas like Chamba, Kinnaur and Great Himalayan Park (GHNP) having a sizeable presence of the majestic animal,” said Dr Savita, Principal Chief Conservator Forest (PCCF). She added that the number is definitely higher than that recorded in the past.

Past studies in 2016, though not very scientific, had put the number of snow leopards in Himachal at 67 which was far higher than the earlier figure of less than 20. With the launch of the Snow Leopard Conservation Project, the number seems to have shot up and could even touch 100, say forest officials.

The state wildlife wing of the Forest Department is executing the “Snow Leopard Project” in association with Mysore based Nature Conservation Foundation for conservation of the animal found at great heights in the entire Himalayan region. More than 30 cameras have been installed at various locations on the left bank of Spiti river to be able to arrive at a rough estimate of their population. With the snow leopard found in limited high altitude areas, efforts are being made worldwide to conserve the animal which is highly endangered.

Himachal is the only state in the country to have undertaken population estimation of snow leopards which are also found in alpine regions of other states like Jammu and Kashmir and Uttarakhand. The most frequent sighting has been in Kibber Plateau, slopes between Kee, Gete and Tashigang, Shilla Nalla area, plateau around Langza, Hikkim, Komic and slopes around Demul, Salung, Rama and Lalung.

Though the snow leopard frequents an area of almost 20,000 sq km in the Himalayan region its density is higher in specific areas in Spiti and Kinnaur.

To help in conservation of this animal, the Forest Department has roped in the migratory shepherds who spot the snow leopards quite often and keep giving valuable inputs to forest officials.

Number may touch 100

  • The studies conducted in 2016, though not very scientific, had put the number of snow leopards in Himachal at 67 which was far higher than the earlier figure of less than 20. 
  • With the launch of the Snow Leopard Conservation Project, the number seems to have shot up and could even touch 100, say forest officials.
  • Himachal is the only state in the country to have undertaken population estimation of snow leopards. 
  • The most frequent sighting has been in Kibber Plateau, slopes between Kee, Gete and Tashigang, Shilla Nalla area, plateau around Langza, Hikkim, Komic and slopes around Demul, Salung, Rama and Lalung.

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