SPAI PROGRAM (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Env and Eco)

News-CRUX-10     31st January 2024        

Context: Union Minister of Environment, Forest, and Climate Change, Shri Bhupender Yadav released the report on the Status of Snow leopards in India during the National Board for Wildlife meeting held in New Delhi.

oThe Wildlife Institute of India (WII) is the National Coordinator for this exercise that was carried out with support the support of all snow leopard range states and two conservation partners, the Nature Conservation Foundation, Mysuru and WWF-India.

Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) Program

  • Range Coverage: The SPAI systematically covered over 70% of India's potential snow leopard habitat.
  • Engaged forest & wildlife staff, researchers, volunteers, and knowledge partners.
  • Geographic Scope: Encompassed 120,000 km2 of vital snow leopard habitat in the trans-Himalayan region.
  • Two-Step Framework: Conducted from 2019 to 2023 using a meticulous two-step approach.
  • Evaluated spatial distribution and abundance through camera traps and occupancy-based sampling.
  • Survey: Surveyed 13,450 km of trails, deploying camera traps at 1,971 locations.
  • Recorded snow leopard occupancy in 93,392 km2 with an estimated presence in 100,841 km2.
  • Population: Estimated populations in different states: Ladakh (477), Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (9).
  • Future Recommendations: Proposes establishing a dedicated Snow Leopard Cell at WII under MoEFCC. Emphasizes long-term population monitoring through structured study designs and consistent field surveys.
  • Consistent Monitoring: Stresses the importance of continuous monitoring for snow leopards' long-term survival. Suggests adopting a periodic population estimation approach (every 4th year) for effective conservation strategies.

Wildlife Institute of India (WII): 

  • About: It is an autonomous natural resource service institution under the Ministry of Environment Forest and Climate change, Government of India, was established in 1982.
  • Located at: Dehradun, India. 
  • Functions:

oIt carries out wildlife research in areas of study like Biodiversity, Endangered Species, Wildlife Policy, Wildlife Management, Wildlife Forensics, Spatial Modelling, Eco-development, Ecotoxicology, Habitat Ecology and Climate Change.