What is the News? The World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) has released a report. Its title is “Over 100 Years of Snow Leopards Research — A spatially explicit review of the state of knowledge in the snow leopard range”.
About the Report:
- The report provides a comprehensive overview of research carried out across the snow leopard range.
- It also identifies gaps that need to be addressed to ensure effective snow leopard conservation.
Key Findings of the Report:
- The studies on snow leopard started in the 1970s, and it continued to increase exponentially since then.
- However, just four hotspots of snow leopard have been researched so far (sites with continued multi-year research). It constitutes less than 23% of the snow leopard range.
- Hence, more than 70% of the habitat of the species spanning over 12 Asian countries remains un-researched.
- Reason: This species of leopard lives in rugged terrain — some of the harshest landscapes on the planet. Therefore, research poses significant logistical challenges.
- Nepal, India, and China had conducted the most snow leopard research, followed by Mongolia and Pakistan.
- Globally, there could be as few as 4,000 snow leopards left in Asia’s high mountains. This remaining population also faces continued and emerging threats such as:
- Increased habitat loss and degradation
- conflict with communities among others.
About Snow Leopards:
- IUCN Status: Vulnerable
- CITES: Appendix I
- Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972: Schedule I
- State Animal: It is the State animal of Himachal Pradesh.
- It lives at high altitudes in the steep mountains of Central and Southern Asia, where the climate is extremely cold.
- Indicator Species: The Snow Leopard (also known as Ghost of the mountains) acts as an indicator of the health of the mountain ecosystem in which they live. It is because of their position as the top predator in the food web.
- Range Countries: Further, it is found in 12 range countries namely Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
- India: In India, it inhabits the higher Himalayan and trans-Himalayan landscape in the states/union territories of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.
Source: Down To Earth