It has been listed under Appendix I of the Convention on Migratory Species of Wild Animals, and in 2002 its status was elevated to ‘requiring Concerted Action’.
Living at extreme altitudes in the steep mountains of the Himalayas, and in a bitterly cold climate, snow leopards are among the most difficult of the world’s top predators to study.
Himalayas act as the water-tower of the Indian sub-continent, with all the major rivers of northern India originating from the Himalaya Mountains. Snow leopard is the apex predator in the Indian Himalayas, and is considered as the ‘flagship’ for conservation of the high-altitude landscape. To safeguard the specie, International Snow Leopard Day will be celebrated on Friday. A number of factors have contributed to the decline in the Snow leopard populations globally.
These include a reduction in prey populations, illegal poaching and increased human population infiltration into the species habitat. There are increasing occurrences of human wildlife conflict owing to the increasing interface between humans and wildlife. Illegal trade of wildlife parts and products and other natural resources is also a key concern in the efforts towards conservation.
Potential snow leopard habitat in India is about 1,30,000 sq.kms, which generally comprises of areas above 3,000m altitude. Recent studies indicate that the Indian snow leopard habitat provides ecosystem services worth 4.20 billion US dollar every year to human communities residing in snow leopard landscapes as well as people living in downstream areas.
Owing to the importance of this landscape, the Government of India has considered Snow Leopard as the flagship species for the Himalayas. In an act of cooperation for the goal of conservation of the species and its habitat, Governments of the Snow Leopard range countries have joined hands pledging to secure a better future for the species.
Tapas Bhattacharya’s report