The International Snow Leopard day is observed annually on October 23. The day is observed to raise awareness on protecting and preserving the rarest and endangered animal (snow leopards) on the planet. This day was first observed in 2014, after the signing of the Bishkek declaration on the conservation of snow leopards during the 1st Global Snow Leopard forum in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan in 2013.
Bishkek declaration: The Bishkek declaration was signed by 12 countries that have snow leopard range. These countries were Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Nepal, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Mongolia, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan, and Uzbekistan.
The 4th steering committee meeting of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) held in New Delhi:
On the occasion of the International Snow Leopard Day, the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Prakash Javadekar launched the 1st national protocol to enumerate the snow leopard population in the nation. This protocol will applicable to all 12 range countries, that signed the Bishkek declaration. The launch was done during the two day long 4th committee meeting of the Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) in New Delhi on October 23, 2019. The programme was conducted under the aegis of environment, forest and climate change ministry.
Key highlights & speeches:
- All the countries that signed the Bishkek declaration participated in the programme.
- The snow leopard range countries could double the snow leopards’ population in near decade and have agreed to work together to identify and secure at-least 23 snow leopard landscapes by 2020 with the support of Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), and the Global Tiger Initiative. The GSLEP country representatives shared best practices implemented in the past 4 year in snow leopard conservation.
- There were 6000 snow leopards globally as in 2003. The present improved tiger population of 2,967 tigers India, which is 77% of the world’s tiger population was discussed.
- A field visit to Rajaji National Park, Uttarakhand is to be done on October 25, 2019.
- Members present: Rajaji National Park director Shri PK Patro, state project officer, United Nations Development Programme (SECURE Himalaya), Uttarakhand, Aparna Pandey and other officials were present in the event.
About snow leopards: The snow leopards are also known as ounce. They are listed as endangered species by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species. The snow leopards are mainly found in the mountain ranges of central and southern parts of Asia. As of 2016, the size of the total wild population was estimated to be in the range of 4,000–8,000.
- Indian Snow leopards: Currently, India’s estimation on snow leopards are of the range 400- 700, spread across the states of Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim, Arunachal Pradesh, Jammu and Kashmir, and Ladakh. The snow leopard is also the state animal of Himachal Pradesh.
- Project snow leopard: The environment ministry launched Project Snow Leopard(PSL) in the year 2009 to safeguard the snow leopards of high altitude and also aims to prevent poaching of these animals.
About Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change
- Headquarters- New Delhi.
- Minister of State(MoS)- Babul Suprio (constituency- Asansol, West Bengal).