International Snow Leopard Day
Part of: Prelims and GS III – Conservation related issues.
Context Oct 23 is recognised as International Snow Leopard Day.
The day came into being with the adoption of the Bishkek Declaration by 12 countries on the conservation of snow leopards.
About Snow Leopard
- Habitat: Snow leopards live in the mountains of Central Asia.
- There are only between 3,920 and 6,390 snow leopards left in the wild.
- Range extends through twelve countries: Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- Conservation Status: Snow leopards were considered endangered species until 2017 but the status was changed to vulnerable later in the year.
- India is home to about 450-500 snow leopards which can be spotted in the upper Himalayan regions of the country.
Conservation efforts by India
- India has been conserving snow leopards and their habitats through the Project Snow Leopard (PSL).
- India has also been part of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme since 2013.
- 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.
- Snow Leopard is in the list of 22 critically endangered species for the recovery programme of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.
- SECURE Himalaya: Funded by Global Environment Facility (GEF)-UNDP for conservation of high-altitude biodiversity.
- This project is now operational in four snow leopard range states – J&K, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.
- Community volunteer programme “HimalSanrakshak” to protect snow leopards.
Global Conservation efforts
- In 2013, the Bishkek Declaration set a goal of protecting at least 20 snow leopard landscapes with viable snow leopard populations by 2020.
- It led to the formation of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP).
Challenges to their conservation
- Increased habitat loss and degradation
- conflict with communities.