Snow Leopard Current Affairs - 2020

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10,000 cameras to be used in Gujarat Lion Census, 2020

The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is to conduct Asiatic Lion Census in May 2020. The Institute will use 10,000 cameras to conduct the census.

Highlights

In 2015, the WII counted 523 lions in Gujarat. It is expected that the numbers have risen phenomenally and the population must have crossed 1,000. The census is to adopt the technology of National Tiger Conservation Authority. The entire census area is to be divided in to 3-km grid. Officers will collect hair, nails, teeth, etc. The collection process is to be carried out using scientific methods laid out by NTCA. Around 1,000 to 2,000 officers are to be employed. In the second phase, 10,000 cameras are to be used to capture the lions.

Asiatic Lions

The Asiatic Lions in Gujarat are restricted to Gir National Park in the state. The lions are listed as “Endangered” in the IUCN Red List. Initially the lions were spread from the east of Indus river to West Bengal and also to Narmada river in Central India. However, today they are restricted to Gujarat alone. Asiatic lions belong to the category of Pantherine cats.

Pantherine Cats

The lion is one among the 5 Pantherine Cats inhabiting in India. The other 4 pantherine cats in India are Bengal Tiger, Snow Leopard, Indian Leopard and Clouded Leopard. Under IUCN red list, Bengal Tiger has been listed as Endangered, and the three leopards snow leopard, clouded leopard and Indian leopard have been listed as Vulnerable

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First national protocol to count India’s Snow Leopard population launched

On the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day, Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) launched the first national protocol to enumerate the population of this elusive and endangered species of snow leopard in India. The Day is celebrated on 23 October every year to protect and conserve snow leopards and preserve beautiful wildlife of Himalayas.

Key Highlights

The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) will contribute to global ‘Population Assessment of the World’s Snow Leopard’s (PAWS) initiative.

Its launch was announced at the inaugural session of 4th steering committee meeting of Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), held in New Delhi. In the GSLEP, delegates from countries including Nepal, Bhutan and Mongolia discussed conservation efforts and reviewed steps to be taken for future protection of the high-altitude predator.

It was decided at the meet that-

  • All Snow leopard range countries can work together and enumerate the number of snow leopards. Also, these countries must strive to double snow leopard population in the coming decade.
  • Need of the hour is green economy and cross country cooperation for the conservation of wildlife.

Snow Leopards in India

India is believed to have about 400 to 700 snow leopards spread across Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Arunachal Pradesh and Sikkim.

Snow leopards are top predators, thus play a critical role in their ecosystem. Poaching is a major threat for them.

Project Snow Leopard is an initiative of Environment Ministry. It aims to safeguard and conserve India’s unique natural heritage of high altitude wildlife populations and their habitats by promoting conservation via participatory policies and actions.

NOTE:

Snow leopards, which live primarily in mountainous regions of Central and Southern Asia are extremely difficult to spot, which further makes it tough to accurately estimate their population. Worldwide, less than 2% of snow leopard habitats have been sampled to assess their population.

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