How many Snow Leopards are left in the India? Recent Reports

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The snow leopard census in India carried out between 2019 and 2023, disclosed a total of 718 snow leopards in the country. This extensive survey encompasses more than 70% of their likely range, signifying a notable augmentation in initial data for 80%, in contrast to the 56% recorded in 2016.

The outcomes of this study form a pivotal groundwork for conservation initiatives, offering valuable perspectives on the endangered species’ distribution throughout its Indian habitat.

Table of Contents

Aim of the Report

  • Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program.
  • First-ever scientific exercise
  • Conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) with collaboration from snow leopard range states and conservation partners.

Key Points

Population Assessment

  • SPAI was conducted from 2019 to 2023.
  • 718 snow leopards were reported in India.
  • Collaboration with Nature Conservation Foundation and WWF-India.

Geographical Coverage

  • SPAI covered over 70% of the snow leopard range in India (approx. 120,000 km²).
  • Including UTs of Ladakh and Jammu and Kashmir, and states like Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

Two-Step Framework

Spatial Distribution Evaluation:

  • Occupancy-based sampling approach.
  • Surveyed 13,450 km of trails.
  • Camera traps deployed at 1,971 locations for 180,000 trap nights.
  • 241 unique Snow leopards were photographed.
  • Occupancy was recorded in 93,392 km², with an estimated presence in 100,841 km².

Abundance Estimation:

  • Used camera traps in identified stratified regions.
  • Estimated population of 718 snow leopards in different states/UTs.

Population Distribution

  • Ladakh (477), Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), J & K (9).

Research Attention

  • Before 2016, one-third (ca. 100,347 km²) of the range received minimal research attention.
  • Recent status surveys increased understanding, providing preliminary information for 80% of the range (about 79,745 km²), compared to 56% in 2016.

Recommendations

  • Establishment of a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell at WII under MoEFCC.
  • Focus on long-term population monitoring with well-structured study designs and consistent field surveys.
  • States and UTs advised to consider a periodic population estimation approach (every 4th year) in the Snow leopard range.

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