Arunachal MP seeks survey on snow leopards in the state

Itanagar: Arunachal Pradesh Lok Sabha MP Ninong Ering has requested Union Forest Minster Harshvardhan for a survey in the state to find the number of snow leopards in the state.

The letter follows photographic evidence of the presence of snow leopards at Thembang area in West Kameng district of the mountain state recently which was yielded during a study of the elusive animal by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), India.

Ering in his letter on December 4 last also requested the union minister to initiate Project Snow Leopard in Arunachal Pradesh.

The letter, a copy of which was made available to the press, also sought publishing of a vision document with regard to the country’s participation in ‘The Bishkek Declaration 2017’ which seeks to conserve the snow leopard and its ecosystem.

“In Arunachal Pradesh, there is also 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,” Ering said in his letter.

“While the Centre has always identified Arunachal as a snow leopard state, this is the first time that 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 had 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 in October this year.

Only a fraction of snow leopard habitats in the state fall into two protected areas – the Dibang biosphere reserve and the 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).

The findings of the state-wide survey will enable Arunachal Pradesh forest department to develop a snow leopard conservation plan to address increasing threats such as retaliatory killings, infrastructure development and climate change induced impacts on the habitats, the statement said.

Snow leopard, native of central and south Asia and a sacred animal in Kyrgyzstan, is listed as a vulnerable category animal in the Red List of threatened species compiled by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

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