Project Snow Leopard Launched 20 January 2009
Innovative Conservation Project for Indian High Altitudes
Project Operational in Five Himalayan States viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh,
Thiru S. Regupathy said that Project Snow Leopard is a manifestation of the Government of India’s resolve to conserve biodiversity with community participation. To give it the same status of importance in the high altitude as that of Tiger in the terrestrial landscape, the ministry is launching the Project Snow Leopard in the country from today. Releasing a document on Project Snow Leopard here today, Mr Regupathy said that Snow Leopard is globally endangered species as well as the most important flagship species of the mountain region. They are at the apex of ecological pyramid suffer the most on account of relatively smaller population size and also because of man-animal conflict. This situation further gets aggravated by the hostile landscape forming its habitat. Referring to its globally endangered species status as well as the most important flagship species of the mountain region, the Minister informed that Snow Leopard has been included in the list of species under Recovery Programme to be funded through the umbrella scheme of integrated Development of Wildlife Habitats. Giving details of there habitat, Sh S Regupathy said there are more than 26 protected areas in the Himalayan landscape where snow leopard is reported. However, areas outside protected areas are equally important for a long range species like Snow Leopard.
Considering these facts, Sh Regupathy added that
The biodiversity of the Himalayans includes at least 350 species of mammals, 1200 species of birds, species of amphibians and reptiles, and numerous plants including many with medicinal properties. Over 335 species of wild relatives of cultivated crops are also found in the region. There are numerous biologically important wetlands that form breeding grounds for waterfowl. These areas also provide vital ecosystem services that are important for the dense human populations downstream and in the Indo-Gengetic plans.
The project will be operational in five Himalayan States viz. Jammu & Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh,
The project stresses on a landscape approach to conservation wherein smaller core zones with relatively conservation values will be identified and conserved with support and the larger landscape will be managed in such a way that it allows necessary development benefits to the local communities. The project thus places greater importance to careful and knowledge-based management planning of the landscapes. The adaptive management planning will involve participation of all key stakeholders so that action is taken by incorporating local wisdom and support. For facilitating effective planning and action, the project will set up enabling administrative mechanisms from the village duster level to the Central Government. At the Central level, a Steering Committee chaired by Director General of Forests & Special Secretary to the Government of India will help guide the project. Each State will have a State Snow Leopard Conservation Society that will coordinate work by the Landscape-level Implementation Committees, which in turn will coordinate work by the village Wildlife Conservation Committees.
The Project Snow Leopard is an Innovative project that would help to arrest species declines in the Indian high altitudes and would lead to conservation based on sound scientific plans and local support. Species such as Snow Leopard, Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan Argali, Ladakh Urial, Chiru, Takin, Serow and Musk Deer will particularly benefit from this project.