India counts 718 snow Leopard with highest number 477 in Ladakh


India has 718 Snow Leopard, the first ever population estimation exercise by the Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program has revealed.

The report on the status of snow leopards in India was released by the Union environment minister Bhupender Yadav during the National Board for Wildlife meeting held in Delhi on Tuesday.

A total of 241 unique snow leopards were photographed in an exercise conducted from 2019 to 2023 using a meticulous two-step framework.

Based on data analysis, Ladakh (477) has the highest population followed by Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (9).

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.

Around 13,450 km of trails were surveyed for recording snow leopard signs, while camera traps were deployed at 1,971 locations.

The snow leopard occupancy was recorded in 93,392 km2, with an estimated presence in 100,841 km2.

During the SPAI exercise, total efforts included: 13,450 km of trails surveyed for recording Snow leopard signs, while camera traps were deployed at 1,971 locations for 180,000 trap nights

Until recent years, the snow leopard range in India was undefined due to a lack of extensive nationwide assessments for this vulnerable species.

Before 2016, approximately one-third of the range received minimal research attention, reduced to just 5% in pockets like Ladakh, Jammu & Kashmir, Uttarakhand, and Himachal Pradesh.

Recent status surveys have significantly increased understanding, providing preliminary information for 80% of the range (about 79,745 km2), compared to 56% in 2016.

To gather robust information on Snow leopard numbers, the SPAI exercise surveyed habitats using a substantial network of camera traps.

The report also mentions the need for establishing a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell at WII under the MoEFCC is proposed, with a primary focus on long-term population monitoring, supported by well-structured study designs and consistent field surveys.


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