The Forest Department of Uttarakhand is said to have found the evidence of Snow Leopards inhabiting in six valleys of the state. As per Hindustan Times report, the department had conducted a 15-day survey in June 2015, in which traces of the endangered species of Snow Leopard were found in six out of 16 valleys in Uttarakhand.
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According to Digvijay Singh Khati, thirty-nine pieces of evidences, including dropping and scats have been found and they will soon be sent for DNA analysis to determine the number of Snow Leopards in the region. Khati further stated that the state is hopeful with the findings; Uttarakhand is likely to be covered under the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme that includes 12 range countries, where this elusive big cat is found. “Through this project, we would be able to do better habitat management of the species” said Khati. It is to be noted that in 2013, 12 range countries, including India, Russia, Afghanistan, China, Kazakhstan, Nepal, Bhutan, Pakistan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, signed up for “Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme” in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
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The traces of Snow Leopards were earlier recorded on camera traps in Gangotri and Nanda Devi. It is worth noting that Uttarakhand is among the five states, including Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh, where snow leopards have been spotted. However, the absence of a population map of the animals in state created a hurdle for its inclusion in the Project Snow Leopard launched by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change in 2009. In order to qualify, potential states had to identify the animal’s habitats and draft management plans, which the state was unable to perform. However, Uttarakhand this time has proceeded meticulously with professional approach and is hopeful to be included in Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Programme.
According to WWF India, there remain as less as 4000 Snow Leopards in the world with only 500 in India.
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