Uttarakhand is getting ready to set up India’s first conservation centre for snow leopardsin the forests of Uttarkashi district. The decision was announced by Chief Minister Trivendra Singh Rawat, following a meeting with state Forest Minister Dr. Harak Singh Rawat and forest officials last week. According to officials, the centre will be developed by the Uttarakhand forest department along with the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).
The goal of setting up the centre is conservation, restoration of Himalayan ecosystems, and creating livelihoods for local people.The project also aims at the conservation of other endangered species along with the snow leopards.
There are around 86 snow leopards in Uttarakhand right now. The state forest department is expected to start a counting with the help of camera traps later this year.
“The total number of snow leopards should be counted in the state,” said Rawat in a statement. “Special efforts should be made to preserve and increase the number of snow leopards. In the last few years, the areas where snow leopards have been seen should be identified by the forest department with the cooperation of local people and military forces. These areas should be calculated by making grids.”
In Uttarakhand, these elusive cats are found in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve, Gangotri National Park, Askot Wildlife Sanctuary, and other places of altitude between 3,000-4,500 meters.
Snow leopards are one of the most enigmatic wild cat species due to their reclusive nature, which is wny they are also known as the ‘Ghost of the Mountains’.
In 2017, the central government had launched the six-year ‘SECURE Himalaya’ project, to support the conservation of the significant biodiversity of the mountain regions. The project also included conservation projects of animals and forest resources spread over Himachal Pradesh, J&K, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.