New Delhi, March 14 (IANS) The environment ministry has called upon the Indian Army and the Indo-Tibetan Border Police (ITBP) to help in the conservation of the snow leopard, an endangered species whose population is rapidly dwindling.
‘There is need for more structured dialogue with the army and the ITBP to facilitate a deeper involvement of these bodies in conservation issues in the snow leopard landscapes,’ said a statement issued by the ministry Monday.
According to the ministry, it is important to have the defence forces on board as they have a large presence in all those areas where the snow leopards are found.
The ministry March 11 held the second meeting of the national steering committee for Project Snow Leopard (PSL), which was chaired by Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh.
The project was launched in 2009 for strengthening wildlife conservation in the unique high altitudes of India with the support of local communities, civilian organisations and scientists.
India has nearly 750 snow leopards found in five states – Himachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh.
The committee reviewed the progress made by individual states in identifying snow leopard landscapes on a scientific basis and preparing appropriate management plans.
In addition to the senior officials from the five snow leopard states, the committee includes scientists and experts from the Nature Conservation Foundation, Wildlife Institute of India, World Wildlife Fund and Wildlife Trust of India.
The participants discussed critical issues regarding streamlining of mechanisms for state-wise disbursement of funds. All states suggested the need for greater capacity building, improvement of facilities, and providing ‘difficult-area’ incentives to field staff to improve on-ground monitoring and protection.
The minister underscored the importance of involving international expertise and exchanging know-how on snow leopard conservation, and proposed the idea of India hosting an international conference on conservation of snow leopards and mountain landscapes.