India’s First Snow Leopard Population Survey Reveals 718 Elusive Cats

India’s First Snow Leopard Population Survey Reveals 718 Elusive Cats

The first scientific survey of the snow leopard in India has revealed significant insights into the population of these elusive cats. The survey was conducted from 2019 to 2023 and covered approximately 120,000 sq km of snow leopard habitat across the trans-Himalayan region.


The survey employed a two-step method for assessing the snow leopard population. The first step involved evaluating the spatial distribution of the snow leopards, while the second step utilized camera traps to estimate their population. A total of 13,450 km of trails were surveyed, and camera traps were strategically placed at 1,971 locations.

Key Findings

Based on the data analysis from the report, the following key findings were identified:

1. Snow Leopard Population in India

  • The survey estimates that India is home to 718 snow leopards.
  • Ladakh emerges as the leading snow leopard habitat in India, with 477 individuals.
  • Other significant habitats include Uttarakhand (124), Himachal Pradesh (51), Arunachal Pradesh (36), Sikkim (21), and Jammu and Kashmir (9).

2. Conservation Recommendations

  • The report recommends the establishment of a dedicated ‘snow leopard cell’ at the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) under the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
  • The focus of this cell would be on long-term population monitoring, with suggested periodic population estimations every 4th year.

3. Global and National Status

  • Globally, the snow leopard is listed as a vulnerable species, with an estimated population between 3,000 and 7,000 worldwide.
  • In India, the snow leopard is accorded the highest wildlife protection status.

Implications and Conservation Measures

The survey underscores the importance of continued efforts for the conservation of snow leopards. Periodic population assessments can provide valuable insights into challenges and threats, aiding in the formulation of effective conservation strategies.

Multiple Choice Questions (MCQs) with Answers

1. What was the primary focus of the snow leopard population survey in India?
a. Spatial distribution evaluation
b. Camera trap deployment
c. Both a and b
d. Trails survey
Answer: c. Both a and b

2. Which region emerged as the leading snow leopard habitat in India according to the survey?
a. Himachal Pradesh
b. Uttarakhand
c. Ladakh
d. Arunachal Pradesh
Answer: c. Ladakh

3. What is the recommended frequency for periodic population estimation in snow leopard ranges?
a. Every year
b. Every 2nd year
c. Every 3rd year
d. Every 4th year
Answer: d. Every 4th year

4. How many snow leopards were estimated to be in India according to the survey?
a. 477
b. 718
c. 124
d. 51
Answer: b. 718

5. What is the global status of the snow leopard?
a. Critically Endangered
b. Endangered
c. Vulnerable
d. Near Threatened
Answer: c. Vulnerable