Umaisar Gull Ganie
Srinagar, Jan 30: Jammu and Kashmir is home to nine snow leopards while Ladakh has the highest number at 477, officials revealed Tuesday.
They said that the snow leopard, an endangered species, has been estimated to have nine in J&K, while Ladakh holds the highest count in India at 477.
Experts said that these figures are satisfactory, but there are still many more areas to be covered.
Union Minister Bhupender Yadav released India’s first-ever Snow Leopard Population Assessment report, revealing a total of 718 snow leopards in the country.
The Wildlife Institute of India, in collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation and WWF-India, conducted the assessment covering 70% of the potential snow leopard range. Ladakh leads with 477, followed by Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and J&K (9).
Munib Khanyari, who was part of the assessment team, said, “This is a first-of-its-kind estimation. I feel very privileged to be part of this estimation. It’s a new binary estimation of snow leopards in mountains and ecosystems in India. It’s something we are very proud of,” he said.
The figures for J&K and Ladakh are satisfactory in the sense that they reflect the efforts made. “Especially in J&K, we have many other areas to cover, especially right after the previous report was released. There are additional areas for snow leopards, so I think there is an opportunity for the numbers to improve, and for us to know. The concerned department is working really hard to enhance conservation efforts in both J&K and Ladakh to protect the animals.”
Khanyari said the department is conducting extensive training for locals to become rangers and is increasing the number of daily wagers. “Many more are engaging with researchers. The department has to continue supporting the researchers as they have been doing so that they can continue their work smoothly,” he said. “Different people, including communities, wildlife department and policymakers, have to collaborate for a more inclusive form of conservation. There is more to be done through collaboration.”