New Delhi, Oct 23: Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change on Wednesday launched the first national protocol to enumerate the snow leopard population in the country on the occasion of International Snow Leopard Day.
"All countries can work together and enumerate the number of snow leopards. We will strive to double the snow leopard population in the world in the coming decade", said Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate change while addressing the inaugural session of the fourth steering committee meeting of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) programme.
As many as 12 range countries, including China, Russia, Afghanistan, Tajikistan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Krgyzstan, Nepal, Bhutan, Uzbekista and Kazakhstan are attending in the two-day steering committee meeting.
The meeting was organised to analyse the efforts to conserve the snow leopard's habitat and curb poaching and illegal wildlife trade.
Mr Javadekar also said that it is time to think about the green economy and cross country cooperation for the conservation of wildlife.
Referring tot the recently concluded tiger survey, the Minister expressed happiness that 2,967 tigers reside in India, which is 77 per cent of the world tiger population.
India is believed to the home of 400 to 700 snow leopards spread across Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir and Ladakh.
Pointing out that snow leopards play a critical role in their ecosystem as top predators, Mr Javadekar said that once get a total count of the snow leopards, each of the countries will then strive to double the population of the high altitude predator. "We will go ahead with conservation of snow leopards. India will have a separate programme on snow leopards to include green pathways in the Himalayan region. The discussion, deliberations and cooperation during the next two days will help the countries to move ahead in nature conservation," the Minister added.
He also said that besides the tiger population, India has 500 plus lions, 30,000 plus elephants, 2500 plus single horn rhinoceros and added that, "we have rich ecology, we can definitely achieve this target on the enumeration and conservation of snow leopards. According to the Ministry, poaching is a major threat for snow leopards along with opening up of areas due to road building, pressure from immigrant labour forces and many mountain ungulates, an important prey of these carnivores, being depleted and lost due to competition with livestock, as well as hunting for meat.
Project snow leopards an initiative by Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, which aims to safeguard and conserve India’s unique natural heritage of high altitude wildlife populations and their habitat by promoting conservation through participatory policies and actions. (UNI)