Snow leopards

News:Experts at the 14th Conference of Parties of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) has said that Conservation of snow leopards can prevent land degradation of the Himalayan ecosystem.

Facts:

About Snow Leopard:

Features:  

  • Snow leopards (Panthera uncial) belong to the family of cats called Felidae.
  • The snow leopard’s fur is whitish to gray with black spots on head and neck, but larger rosettes on the back, flanks and bushy tail.

Habitat:

  • Snow leopards are found in 12 range countries namely Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.China contains as much as 60% of all snow leopard habitat areas.
  • In India,snow leopards are found in the high altitude areas above the forested areas above 3000m.
  • The states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh constitute snow leopard Habitat range in India.
  • Snow leopard is the State animal of Himachal Pradesh .It is also the National Heritage Animal of Pakistan.

Conservation Status:

  • Snow leopards are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species.
  • They are also listed on Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES).
  • Government of India has also identified the snow leopard as a flagship species for the high altitude Himalayas.

Major Threats:

  • Loss of Habitat and species
  • Man-animal conflict
  • Hunting of snow leopards for their fur and skin
  • Human habitation in and around their habitats

Conservation Measures:

  • Project snow leopard- It is a centrally-supported programme launched in 2009 by the Government of India.It is aimed at conservation of the Snow leopards species and its habitats.
  • Global Snow Leopard Forum-It was formed in 2013 by 12 countries encompassing the snow leopard’s range.The countries are Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
  • Bishkek Declaration- The 12 range countries had signed the Bishkek Declaration to acknowledge that the snow leopard is an irreplaceable symbol of our nations’ natural and cultural heritage and an indicator of the health and sustainability of mountain ecosystems.
  • Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program-It is a joint initiative of range country governments, international agencies, civil society, and the private sector.Its goal is to secure the long-term survival of the snow leopard in its natural ecosystem.
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