J&K launches maiden snow leopard assessment

J&K launches maiden snow leopard assessment
The snow leopard is one of the threatened species found in the rocky glaciated high mountains of the Himalayas.Special arrangement

Jammu: The Department of Wildlife Protection J&K Tuesday formally launched the first-ever snow leopard assessment in J&K.

An official spokesman in a statement issued here said that the research team was sent-off by Principal Chief Conservator of Forests and Chief Wildlife Warden J&K, Suresh Kumar Gupta.

The survey was part of the nationwide population assessment of snow leopards being carried out as per the protocol laid by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEF&CC).

The snow leopard is one of the threatened species found in the rocky glaciated high mountains of the Himalayas.

It is found only in Central Asia, South Asia, China, and Russian countries.

Studies like snow leopard population, ecology, and monitoring are crucial to assess and monitor the snow leopard population and its trend and sustainability status of its associated ecosystem.

Present snow leopard population assessment in J&K covers potential areas in Kishtwar and adjoining forests in Jammu, Gurez, Thajiwas, and Overa-Aru in Kashmir region.

In both regions, the survey team comprising project research fellows, project assistants, field assistants, and departmental staff would carry out camera trapping, photography, transact walk, and scat sampling in potential snow leopard habitats in a systematic manner as per the protocol of MoEF&CC.

Formally launching the project, Gupta emphasised the importance of having a sound snow leopard conservation plan based on robust scientific data collected in collaboration with research institutions and NGOs.

He also highlighted the importance of extending protection, conservation, and management aspects to the potential snow leopard habitat on landscape approach, which not only ensures the long-term survival of the threatened snow leopards but also secures water and biodiversity security of the northern states of India.

Snow leopard habitats also have major permanent glaciers which are the main source of water to the Himalayan rivers.

The Wildlife Protection department is carrying out this survey in collaboration with the Institute of Mountain Environment (IME) Bhaderwah campus (Jammu University), Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture, Science and Technology, Kashmir (SKUAST-K), National Development Foundation (NDF), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI), and Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore.

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