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Workshop on Snow Leopard Population Assessment inaugurated

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JAMMU: Chairman Pollution Control Committee, Suresh Chugh, Thursday inaugurated one day workshop on Snow Leopard Population Assessment in Jammu and Kashmir organised by Wildlife Protection Department at Manda here.
Snow Leopard, a threatened species which has resemblance with common leopard, is an apex predator of high altitude cold mountain eco-system whose population is declining due to poaching, habitat destruction, grazing, retaliatory killing, global warming etc. The UT of J&K has 10,000 sq.km of potential snow leopard habitat which is in continuity with adjoining Ladakh UT and Himachal Pradesh State. J&K is expected to have significant number of snow leopard population whose conservation and management are critical to the population stabilization and revival of this threatened species.
During the workshop, the experts imparted crucial training to field staff of Wildlife Department and Associated Research Teams regarding survey, sampling and documentation as per Snow Leopard Population Assessment in India protocol. The field staff and research teams were also provided hands on training on use of modern tools like GPS, Camera Traps, Smart Phone, Spotting Scope, Range Finder etc.
The collected samples in the form of scats and droppings will be subjected to genetic analysis for species identification and population assessment. This training exercise shall familiarize field staff on coordinated field survey and sampling which ultimately results in snow leopard population assessment, extent of their occurrence and area of occupancy in the overall potential area of snow leopard habitat of J&K.
Suresh Chugh appreciated the role of Wildlife Protection department for its successful endeavour towards becoming a part of the national and global snow leopard population assessment. He also underlined the importance of snow leopard assessment and spin over benefits of such exercises like health of snow leopard habitat, prey base co-existence with other carnivores, impact of grazing etc. as a secondary outcome. He advised the department to focus on population assessment and documentation of other important species also.
Chief Wildlife Warden, Suresh Kumar Gupta, laid emphasis on organizing more such workshops on regular basis to enhance skills of the field staff towards systematic documentation of biodiversity apart from varied conservation and management under routine basis. He explained that Forest Department, Researchers and NGOs are expected to survey about 220 grids of 25 sq.km size over an area of 40% potential area of snow leopard of J&K.
The resource persons namely Dr. Yashveer Bhatnagar, Dr. Koustubh Sharma, Dr.Neeraj Sharma, Dr. Pankaj Chandan, Dr. Muzaffar Ahmad Kitchloo, Dr. Divyashree, Dr. Uma RamaKrishnan, Amit Sharma (WLWJZ), Dr. Dinesh Singh, Dr. Anil Thakur, Dr. Vinita Sharma and Dr. Vipin Sharma for one day training programme were drawn from expert organizations such as Nature Conservation Forum (NCF), Institute of Mountain and Ecology (IME) Bhaderwah, Jammu University (JU), National Development Foundation (NDF), World Wide Fund (WWF) and National Centre for Biological Sciences (NCBS).
Participants of workshop observed two minute silence in memory of departed souls of Department of Wildlife Protection employees namely Tariq Huassain (Guard), Bashir Ahmad (Mali) and Mohammad Sharif (Need based worker) who lost their lives in the recent cloud burst incidence in Dachan, Kishtwar.

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