Srinagar: During the 65th Research Council Meeting of SKUAST-Kashmir, a tripartite agreement was signed between the Department of Wildlife Protection, SKUAST Kashmir and the National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS) Benguluru.
The agreement was signed by Vice-Chancellor SKUAST-Kashmir, PCCF/Chief Wildlife Warden, Jammu & Kashmir Government, Director NCBS, Bengaluru in presence of Dr. T. Mohapatra, Ex Director General & Secretary DARE, ICAR. Officials said the strategic agreement aims to foster research collaborations between partnering institutions in the field of conservation genetics, with a special focus on estimating the snow leopard population.
The event was attended by the University's officers headed by Director Research Dr. Sarafraz A. Wani, officers from line departments, officers of the Wildlife Department, Rashid Yahya Naqash, Regional Wildlife Warden, Kashmir, Wildlife Warden Central Division, Dachigam and Research Officer. All the members of the Research Council of SKUAST-Kashmir also attended the meeting.
During the event, Prof. Nazir Ahmad Ganai commended efforts of Dr Khursheed Ahmad, the Head of the Division of Wildlife Sciences, SKUAST-Kashmir, in fostering research collaborations with the Wildlife Protection Department and working on the management-oriented aspects of threatened species.
Prof. Ahmad emphasised the need to strengthen collaborative research on snow leopards and other threatened species in Jammu and Kashmir using genetics methods.
He also hoped for the establishment of a state-of-the-art conservation genetics and forensic laboratory at SKUAST-Kashmir under this agreement to further the cause of wildlife conservation in the region.
Suresh Gupta, PCCF & Chief Wildlife Warden, Jammu & Kashmir, informed that the MOU would largely focus on population estimation of snow leopards in Jammu and Kashmir using genetics methods as part of India's national effort to estimate the number of snow leopards under the Snow Leopard Population Assessment of India (SPAI) Program.
Gupta lauded the scientific and technical contributions of Dr Khursheed Ahmad from time to time particularly with respect to Hangul Conservation. He expressed hope that the Department of Wildlife Protection would benefit from potential of the Division of Wildlife Sciences, SKUAST-Kashmir, with regard to research, survey, capacity building, and awareness for effective science-based wildlife management and conservation in Jammu & Kashmir.
He also hoped that this MoU would help the Department to successfully complete exercise of Snow Leopard Population Assessment with preparation of landscape Management Plan along with the support of SKUAST-Kashmir and NCBS, Bengaluru under the technical guidance of NCF. Dr Khursheed Ahmad, Senior Scientist & Head Division of Wildlife Sciences, SKUAST-Kashmir briefed the gathering about the agreement and its significance towards wildlife conservation in the region.