Snow leopard, guardian of Himalayan rivers

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Snow leopards live ideally in high altitude mountains. In India,their geographical range encompasses a large part of the western Himalayas including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. Protecting the snow leopard and its habitat ensures protection of the major Himalayan rivers that support the teeming millions downstream, as the Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change is working on the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).

Protection of snow leopard also ensures that the ecological balance is maintained in these fragile ecosystems. The international PSL programme comprises 12 snow leopard range countries which have developed national priorities and identified large landscapes to support viable populations of these animals.

Foot marks of Snow Leopard ;pics courtesy, Environment Ministry

The PSL was launched in 2009 as India is committed to landscape restoration for snow leopard habitat conservation. India is also party to the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.

Snow Leopard enumeration of the Nation, which is the first of its kind, has been developed by scientific experts

Minister of State for Environment Babul Supriyo said in a recent webinar that India has identified three large landscapes, namely, Hemis-Spiti across Ladakh and Himachal Pradesh; Nanda Devi – Gangotri in Uttarakhand; and Khangchendzonga – Tawang across Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh for raising population of snow leapards.

Supriyo emphasised that states, together with Government of India, should resolve to bring up the population of snow leopards in the next five years.Combatting illegal trade in wildlife should also be a priority.

His senior , Minister for Environment, Prakash Javedkar had said last year, “We will strive to double the Snow leopards population in the world in the coming decade

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