Environment ministry is devising a special conservation program with a view to take strong & immediate steps to protect snow leopard and dugongs that are fighting hard for survival.
Dwelling in high altitude regions, snow leopards are an endangered species whose number is constantly going down. The exact number of snow leopards in India is vaguely known as physical restraints put forth by inclement weather at high altitude landscapes have been restricting government agencies to count the survivors of this species. However, some wildlife groups suggest that their current count in India is around 700. According to sources, only one snow leopard is present in every 100 sq km of upper Spiti area in Lahaul and Spiti of Himachal Pradesh.
Before this soon-to-be-launched program, government had declared another program for the conservation of snow leopards in 2009. But, wildlife conservationists say, authorities failed to implement it. Due to this unsuccessful effort and continuously increasing stress on Himalayan eco-system in the last 5 years, it has been very difficult for snow leopards to survive.
Koustubh Sharma, Indian Regional Ecologist for the Snow Leopard Trust, says snow leopards reflect the health of mountain ecosystems, which in turn determines the quantity of rainfall and condition of rivers in the area.
Snow leopards are being hunted for decades for their skin and bones that are sent to China and other parts of South East Asia. Though it is surely a big reason, the prime reason for the decline of snow leopards is unruly projects of mining & hydro power dams and cutting drives that are carried out with no restriction in Himalayas. Further, in some hamlets of upper Indian Himalayas, snow leopards attack the livestock of villagers due to the shortage of food. This often leads to latter hunting down the former.
Koustubh said the recovery of snow leopards can only be successful if the mining, hydro power dams and other such projects are planned keeping in mind their impact on mountain ecology. He added that we need an effective integrated landscape-based conservation plan to protect the ecology and ultimately snow leopards and other species dwelling in Indian Himalayas.
Coming back to this special conservation plan for snow leopards, an official from the environment ministry said “The project will be launched soon without any delay. It will be a landscape-based conservation and trans-Himalayan approach will be adopted with the cooperation from China, Mongolia, Nepal, Bhutan and Russia and other habitat countries of Central Asia.”
Tour My India News Desk.