Status of snow leopards in India

There are 718 snow leopards in India. However, only a third of their habitat is under legal protection, showed a report released by the Government of India and non-profit organisations on January 30, 2024.

Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, released the report on the Status of Snow leopards in India during the National Board for Wildlife meeting held in New Delhi. The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program is the first-ever scientific exercise that reports Snow leopard population of 718 individuals in India. The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is the National Coordinator for this exercise that was carried out with support the support of all snow leopard range states and two conservation partners, the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru and WWF-India.

The SPAI systematically covered over 70% of the potential snow leopard range in the country, involving forest & wildlife staff, researchers, volunteers, and contributions from knowledge partners. Covering approximately 120,000km2 of crucial Snow leopard habitat across the trans-Himalayan region, including UTs of Ladakh and J & K, and states such as Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh, the SPAI exercise was conducted from 2019 to 2023 using a meticulous two-step framework. The first step involved evaluating Snow leopard spatial distribution, incorporating habitat covariates into the analysis, aligning with the guidelines of the National population assessment of snow leopards in India by the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC) in 2019. This systematic approach included assessing the spatial distribution through an occupancy-based sampling approach in the potential distribution range. In the second step, Snow leopard abundance was estimated using camera traps in each identified stratified region.

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