Study on snow leopard and it's prey-The Hindu-11/08/2022



Context: A recent study by the Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) on snow leopards (Panthera uncia) has thrown up interesting insights into the elusive mountain cat and its prey species.

Prelim : 

Scientific Name: Panthera uncia

IUCN red list: Vulnerable, Schedule I species & Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species (CITES),

Prey species: Siberian ibex and Blue sheep.

Predator: Top Predator

National park: Hemis National Park(about 200 snow leopards found)

The location where it is found in India: a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas.



What study is found?

1. Study found that the snow leopard detection probability was high if the site was used by its prey species —ibex and blue sheep. Whereas, in the case of the prey species, the probability of detection was low when the predator was present and detected. Besides this, results suggested that both species were less likely to be detected together than expected.

2. The study suggested that habitats such as barren areas, grassland, aspect, slope, and distance to water were important drivers of habitat use for the snow leopard as well as its prey species.

3. The Spiti Valley possessed a good habitat in and outside the protected areas which could support a viable population of both threatened snow leopard and its prey species.


Steps were taken by the government to conservation of  Snow leopards:

  1. GSLEP 2013: The Global Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP) seeks to address high-mountain development issues using the conservation of the charismatic and endangered snow leopard as a flagship.

  2. HimalSanrakshak 2020: A community volunteer program, to protect snow leopards

  3. In 2019, First National Protocol was also launched on Snow Leopard Population Assessment which has been very useful for monitoring populations.

  4. Project Snow Leopard (PSL) 2009:  To promote an inclusive and participatory approach to conserving snow leopards and their habitat.

  5. Snow Leopard comes under the list of 21 critically endangered species for the recovery program of the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change.

  6. The Snow Leopard conservation breeding program is undertaken at Padmaja Naidu Himalayan Zoological Park, Darjeeling, West Bengal.




The snow leopard is found in a large part of the western Himalayas including the states of Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh in the eastern Himalayas due to the presence of its prey species ibex and blue sheep. It is found that Spiti valley possessed a good habitat, barren areas, and Grassland slope and distance to water important driver for snow leopard. Snow leopard as well as its prey rare exist simultaneously.

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