Department of Wildlife Protection J&K has formally launched the first ever Snow Leopard Assessment in J&K. The Research team was sent-off by Suresh Kumar Gupta, Pr.CCF/Chief Wildlife Warden J&K. The survey was part of the nationwide population assessment of snow leopard, being carried-out as per protocol laid by the Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEF&CC). Snow Leopard is one of the threatened species found in the rocky glaciated high mountains of Himalayas.Snow Leopard is found only in Central Asia, South Asia, China and Russian countries. Studies like snow leopard population, ecology and monitoring are crucial to assess and monitor the snow leopard population and its trend and sustainability status of its associated eco-system.Present Snow leopard population assessment in J&K covers potential areas in Kishtwar and adjoining forests in Jammu, Gurez, Thajwas and Overa-Aru in Kashmir region. In both the regions, survey team comprising Project Research Fellows, Project Assistants, Field Assistants and Departmental staff would carry-out camera trapping, photography, transact walk and scat sampling in potential snow leopard habitats in a systematic manner as per the protocol of MoEF&CC.
Suresh Gupta, while formally launching the project has emphasized on the importance of having a sound snow leopard conservation plan based on robust scientific data collected in collaboration with Research Institutions, NGOs. He also highlighted the importance of extending protection, conservation and management aspects to the potential snow leopard habitat on landscape approach, which not only ensures long term survival of threatened snow leopards but also secures water and bio-diversity security of the northern states of India. Snow leopard habitats also have major permanent glaciers which are the main source of water to the Himalayan rivers.Pertinent to mention that Wildlife Protection department is carrying out this survey in collaboration with Institute of Mountain Environment (IME) Bhaderwah Campus (Jammu University), Sher-e-Kashmir University of Agriculture, Science & Technology (SKUAST) Kashmir, National Development Foundation (NDF), Wildlife Trust of India (WTI) and Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) Bangalore.The event was coordinated and conducted by Dr. Kumar M.K, Conservator of Forests/Regional Wildlife Warden Jammu and was attended by Sh. Rajeev Khajuria, CEO (NDF), Dr. Neeraj Sharma, Senior Assistant Professor (IME), Dr. Pankaj Chandan, Director (NDF), Wildlife Warden Kishtwar, Wildlife Warden Jammu, Wildlife Warden (HQ), Research Scholars and Staff of Wildlife Protection Department.