Snow leopard population in India | Number of snow leopards

Snow leopard is a large cat species found in the high mountains of Central and South Asia. These big cats have thick fur, agile bodies, long tails, and powerful legs that help them survive in the cold mountainous terrain. India recently undertook a scientific exercise to count the number of snow leopards in the country. The following are the results.

Snow leopard population in India

There are an estimated 718 snow leopards in India. The Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India (SPAI) program covered over 70% of the potential snow leopard range in the states/UTs of Ladakh, Jammu and Kashmir, Uttarakhand, Himachal Pradesh, Sikkim, and Arunachal Pradesh.

State-wise snow leopard population

State/UTEstimated number of snow leopards
Himachal Pradesh51
Arunchal Pradesh36
Jammu and Kashmir9

From 2019 to 2023, snow leopard occupancy was recorded in 93,392 sq km of area, with an estimated presence in 100,841 sq km. At 1,971 locations, camera traps were deployed. Also, 13,450 km of trails were surveyed for recording snow leopard signs.

This was the first time a snow leopard population assessment was done in India. Ladakh without surprise has the highest number of snow leopards. Uttarakhand ranks second and Himachal Pradesh ranks third in terms of snow leopard numbers. The assessment also shows there are more snow leopards in the western Himalayas than in the eastern Himalayas.

(Also read: Which state has the highest number of Tigers in India?)

The Hemis National Park located in Ladakh is the largest safe haven for these big cats. Other places where snow leopards live in considerable numbers are Pin Valley National Park, Gangotri National Park, Valley of Flowers National Park, and Nanda Devi National Park.

This type of assessment was long overdue in India. Before, there was not a very clear understanding of snow leopard habitat. This will help the authorities in conservation efforts to ensure the long-term survival of this magnificent species.

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