Posted on 20 April 2023
20th April, 2023 Kathmandu –
Nepal has unveiled the status of snow leopard population in Shey Phoksundo National Park (SPNP). Systematic camera trap survey has revealed an estimated population size of 90 snow leopards in SPNP with a population density of 2.2 snow leopards per 100 sq km.
“I would like to congratulate SPNP for their effort in estimating snow leopard population. We are proud to have contributed to this achievement under the leadership of the government and in partnership with citizen scientists from the local indigenous communities, young conservationists, and WWF. This work has created a platform for estimating the snow leopard population in the country” said Dr Maheshwar Dhakal, Director General, Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.
Snow leopards are a vulnerable, flagship species and are an indicator of healthy mountain ecosystems. They face threats from wildlife crime, retributive killing, and climate change impacts on their habitats. Moreover, they are among the least studied of the big cats of the world.
“This is the first time a rigorous and scientific survey has been conducted in SPNP. We need to continue our holistic conservation efforts to ensure that the communities and the Snow Leopards thrive together in the region. Managing a human snow leopard interface should be our priority” said Dr. Ghana Shyam Gurung the Country Representative of WWF Nepal.
In line with the priorities of the Global Snow Leopard & Ecosystem Protection Program (GSLEP), Nepal is currently working on the development of climate-smart Snow Leopard and Ecosystem Management Plan (2017-2026) for western snow leopard landscape. With new information from the survey including the estimated population and the high-density pockets, the conservation and management of the species can move forward on a stronger footing.
The emerging figures are a testament to Nepal’s mountain community’s stewardship for snow leopard conservation, as well as decades of investments into the country’s efforts towards research and monitoring, human wildlife conflict management, anti-poaching effort, and habitat management. Improved security against wildlife crime, livestock insurance and relief schemes, and improved livelihoods of the community are all part of the holistic approach. Efforts continue under the leadership of Nepal Government to secure the sustainable future of snow leopards globally, to address these and other emerging challenges.
This survey was led by SPNP with financial and technical support from conservation partner World Wildlife Fund- Nepal (WWF Nepal). WWF Nepal would like to thank WWF UK, WWF Germany, WWF Belgium, WWF Canada, WWF Australia, and WWF Finland for supporting Snowleopard conservation work in Nepal.