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India will commission its first-ever snow leopard survey to estimate the population and geographical range of the snow leopard. It is a member of the genus ‘Panthera’ to which tiger, leopard and lion also belong. Its Scientific name is “Panthera uncia”. They inhabit alpine and subalpine zones at elevations from 3,000 to 4,500 m (9,800 to 14,800 ft). It is native to the mountain ranges of Central and South Asia. The 12 range countries are Afghanistan, Bhutan, China, India, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Mongolia, Nepal, Pakistan, Russia, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan. India is home to 10% of the global population in less than 5% of its global range. In 2017, status of Snow leopard in the Red List of the IUCN was changed from ‘endangered’ to ‘vulnerable’. It is also listed in Schedule I of Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 and Listed in Appendix I of the CITES, which makes trading of animal body parts (i.e., fur, bones and meat) illegal in signatory countries. Project snow leopard: It was launched in 2009 in the 5 Himalayan states of Jammu & Kashmir, HP, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to conserve India’s high altitude wildlife populations such as Snow Leopard, Asiatic Ibex, Tibetan Argali, Ladakh Urial, Chiru, Takin etc.

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