Snow Leopard Current Affairs - 2020

Government launches SECURE Himalaya Project

The Union Government had launched SECURE Himalaya, a six-year project to ensure conservation of locally and globally significant biodiversity, land and forest resources in high Himalayan ecosystem spread over four states viz. Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand and Sikkim.

It was launched by Union Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in association with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

Key Facts

The SECURE project aims at securing livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems. It is meant for specific landscapes including Changthang (Jammu and Kasmir), Lahaul – Pangi and Kinnaur (Himachal Pradesh), Gangotri – Govind and Darma – Byans Valley in Pithoragarh (Uttarakhand) and Kanchenjunga – Upper Teesta Valley (Sikkim).

The key focus areas of the project is protection of snow leopard and other endangered species and their habitats and also securing livelihoods of people in region and enhancing enforcement to reduce wildlife crime. Under it, enhanced enforcement efforts and monitoring will be undertaken to curb illegal trade in some medicinal and aromatic plants which are among most threatened species in these landscapes.

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Snow leopard no longer endangered: IUCN

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has downgraded conservation status of snow leopard from “endangered” to “vulnerable”. It was changed after three-year assessment process by international experts.

The change in status comes 45 years after snow leopard was first declared endangered in 1972. However, experts have warned that snow leopard species still faces serious threats from poaching and habitat destruction.

Key Facts

Endangered Species: According to IUCN, species are considered ‘endangered,’ if they are fewer than 2,500 and experiencing high rate of decline.

Vulnerable Species: Species are fewer than 10,000 and its population has declined at least 10% over three generations.

Snow leopard

Snow leopard (Panthera uncial) is a large cat native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia- including Himalayas, and Russia’s remote Altai mountains. It inhabits in alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m. In the northern range countries, it is also found at lower elevations.

It is threatened by poaching for their fur, habitat destruction by infrastructure developments and climate change. It mostly feed on wild animals, but also prey on livestock. It usually hunts at dawn and dusk and is able to kill prey up to three times their own weight. It is National Heritage Animal of Pakistan and Afghanistan.

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