Source: PIB Relevance: GS Paper III (Environment)

Current News: Shri Bhupender Yadav, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, has recently unveiled the report regarding the status of Snow Leopards in India.

Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Report Highlights:

  • The inaugural scientific endeavour, Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI), spanned approximately four years.

  • The Wildlife Institute of India (WII) serves as the National Coordinator for this comprehensive initiative.

  • The assessment reveals that India boasts an estimated 718 snow leopards thriving in their natural habitats.

  • Ladakh takes the lead with 477 snow leopards, trailed by Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (nine).

India houses approximately 10-15% of the global snow leopard population, as per the assessment.

Significance of SPAI Initiative:

  • Crucial in delineating the geographical range of snow leopards in India.

  • Leveraged an extensive array of camera traps to gather robust data.

Snow Leopards:


  • Belonging to the Panthera genus within the Felidae family, this feline is a sizable cat species.

  • Originating from the mountainous regions of Central and South Asia, it is native to these areas.

  • Within mountain ecosystems, it holds the role of a dominant predator.


  • Displaying numerous adaptations suited for existence in chilly, mountainous surroundings.

  • Minimising heat loss is facilitated by its small, rounded ears.

  • Broad paws, equipped with undersides of fur, aid weight distribution for walking on snow and provide enhanced grip on steep, unstable surfaces.

  • Balancing the cat on rocky terrain is facilitated by its lengthy and flexible tail.


  • They are dispersed throughout the mountainous terrain of Central Asia, encompassing various regions of the Himalayas like Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim.

Conservation Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Classified as Vulnerable.

  • CITES: Listed under Appendix I.

  • Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972: Designated as Schedule-I.

Snow Leopard Conservation Initiatives in India:

  • The Government of India has designated the snow leopard as a flagship species for the elevated Himalayan region.

  • Since 2013, India has been actively involved in the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection (GSLEP) Programme.

  • Initiated in October 2020, Himal Sanrakshak is a community volunteer program aimed at safeguarding snow leopards.

  • Launched in 2009, Project Snow Leopard (PSL) advocates an inclusive and participatory approach to conserve snow leopards and their habitat.

  • The Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change’s recovery program includes the Snow Leopard among the 21 critically endangered species.

Global Collaboration:

  • The Snow Leopard Trust, WWF, and various organizations cooperate on worldwide initiatives to conserve snow leopards.

  • The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) engage multiple countries within the snow leopard’s range.

Concerted international efforts, exemplified by initiatives like the Snow Leopard Trust and GSLEP, underscore the commitment to preserving these majestic cats and their habitats.

Advait IAS