From our correspondent
Itanagar, Dec 7: Agog with the evidences of presence of snow leopard in Arunachal Pradesh, Lok Sabha MP Ninong Ering in a letter has requested Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Minister Dr Harshvardhan for conducting a survey in the State to access the number and biological appropriateness of the wild cat species.
A study about snow leopards by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) India has yielded photographic evidence of the presence of the elusive species in Thembang area under West Kameng district of the State recently.
Ering in his letter on December 4 last also requested the minister to initiate Project Snow Leopard. The letter, a copy of which was made available to the Press, further requested the ministry to publish a vision document with regard to the country’s participation in “The Bhishkek Declaration on the Conservation of Snow Leopard 2017”.
“In Arunachal Pradesh there is also the need for extension of the area allotted to the Snow Leopard landscape with a plan for community participation in the surveillance process, as most of the forests are community owned,” The Congress MP from Arunachal East Parliamentary Constituency said in his letter.
“While the Centre has always identified Arunachal as a ‘Snow Leopard’ State, this is the first time proof of their presence has been captured. This is a significant feat for our State, for the presence of this carnivore is an indicator of the thriving ecology in the area”, Ering added.
The State-wide survey carried out by WWF India in collaboration with State forest department was started in March this year, focusing on unexplored areas.
It has yielded photo evidence of the snow leopard through a camera trap set up at Thembang, one of the community conserved areas in the State, according to a WWF statement released during October. Only a fraction of snow leopards that habitat in the State fall in two protected areas—Dibang Biosphere Reserve and Namdapha National Park.
“The presence of the big cat beyond these protected areas highlights the importance of community support for conservation as well as landscape-scale conservation planning,” the WWF statement said.
The survey relied on the knowledge of the community members to understand the current distribution of snow leopards and other large mammals in the region.
The state-wide survey is significant as it covers one of the 22 priority landscapes of the Global Snow Leopard Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP). Findings of the state-wide survey will enable the Arunachal Pradesh Forest Department to develop a snow leopard conservation plan to address the increasing threats such as retaliatory killings, infrastructure development and climate change induced impacts on the habitats, the statement added. Snow leopard, a native of central and south Asia, is listed in a ‘vulnerable’ category animal in the Red List of threatened species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).