Introduction: PSL is Govt. of India’s initiative for strengthening conservation in the greater and Trans Himalayan tracts that occurs above the forested zone. This region has severe climate, unique biodiversity and dependence of local people for sustenance. PSL is a landscape level conservation approach in the Indian high altitudes that is not restricted to the legal protected areas only. Snow Leopard is used as a flagship and umbrella species for overall conservation in the landscape.
Spiti region has three PA’s, Pin Valley NP, Kibber WLS and Chandertal WLS, however there is abundant presence of wildlife outside these PA’s based on which the Govt. of Himachal Pradesh designated the entire Spiti Division as ‘Wildlife Division’ in 2007. The area has also been designated as a Biosphere reserve under the Man and Biosphere Reserve program of UNESCO in 2009.
The endangered Snow Leopard occurs over most of the high altitudes of central Asia and Himalayas. The coarse global population estimate for the snow Leopard is about 7400 individuals. The potential habitat of snow Leopard globally is estimated to be around 2 million square km, with most animals occurring in China followed by Mangolia and India. India is believed to have between 400 to 700 snow leopards in five Trans Himalayan states.
The ministry of environment and forest (MoEF), Govt., of India, had initiated work on a flagship Snow Leopard scheme in 1988. , but it could not be launched. In 2004, Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) began a consultative process in all five Himalayan states (J&K, HP, Utterakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh) to access the need and scope for initiating Project Snow Leopard. A concept paper was prepared together with the Chief Wildlife Wardens that outlined the project justification and its objectives (PSL 2006). These issues were further discussed in separate state level workshops followed by a National level workshop at Leh in July 2006 that was sponsored by MoEF and organized by J&K Wildlife Department, in technical collaboration with NCF and International Snow Leopard Trust. This workshop was attended by officials and decision makers from the Govt., scientists from WII, NGOs and other institutions and conservation practitioners.

OBJECTIVES:
  1. Facilitate a landscape level approach to wildlife conservation
  2. Rationalize the existing PA network and improve PA management within the larger landscape.
  3. Develop a framework for wildlife conservation outside protected areas and promote ecologically responsible development.
  4. Support focused conservation and recovery programs for endangered species such as the Snow Leopard and its prey species.
  5. Promote stronger measures for WL protection and law enforcement.
  6. Promote better understanding and management of human wildlife conflicts.
  7. Restore degraded landscapes in high altitude Himalayan and Trans Himalayan Biogeography regions.
  8. Promote a knowledge based approach to conservation and an adaptive framework for wildlife management.
  9. Reduce existing anthropogenic pressures on natural resources.
  10. Promote local capacity, conservation education and awareness.
Management plan: The task of preparation of management plan was assigned to the team of NCF-SLT by the Chief Wildlife Warden of Himachal Pradesh in 2008. The plan was finally completed in late 2010. The budget plan has been prepared for a period of 5 years in the management plan. The management plan is due for revision this year in 2016. Threats:
  1. Livestock grazing: local and migratory herders; degradation of pastures and spread of diseases.
  2. Human-wildlife conflicts: livestock depredation by carnivores (snow Leopard and Wolf) and crop raiding by herbivores sometimes results in retaliatory killing of wild animals.
  3. Developmental activities: construction of roads, water channels and other constructions. Bringing in outside labour is also a threat to poaching activities and NTFP collection. Feral dogs are also a threat to wild animals.
  4. Other human disturbances: biomass extraction and un-organized tourism in wildlife areas.
  5. Habitat degradation: loss of habitat and overgrazing by domestic animals
  6. Climate change: Reduction in snowfall and melting of glaciers.
Lack of awareness DETAILS OF BUDGET PROPOSED IN MANAGEMENT PLAN FOR THE PERIOD 2011-16 (Amount in Lakhs)
S. No. IDWH Heads Year I Year 2 Year 3 Year 4 Year 5 Total
1. Management planning and capacity building
i. Management planning 3 3 3 1.5 1.5 12
ii. Strengthening wildlife life research, education and nature awareness 10 7 6 6 6 35
Iii Staff development and capacity building 4 4 4 4 4 20
Iv Independent education and status survey in Pas 0 0 0 0 4 4
2. Anti poaching and infrastructure development
v. Anti poaching activities 4 4 4 4 4 20
vi. Strengthening of infrastructure 15 15 15 3 3 51
vii. Wildlife veterinary care 2 2 2 2 2 10
Viii Strengthening staff welfare activities 4 4 4 4 4 20
3. Restoration of habitats
ix. Habitat improvement 2 2 2 2 2 10
4. Eco-development and community oriented activities
x. Addressing man-animal conflicts 4 4 4 4 4 20
xi. Strengthening co-existence agenda 15 10 10 10 10 55
xii. Determining inviolate spaces and relocation of villages from core-critical/crucial wildlife habitats 1 1.5 1.5 1.5 1.5 7
xiii. Fostering eco-tourism 2 2 2 2 2 10
Total 66 58.5 57.5 44 48 274
BUDGET ALLOTMENT AND UTILIZATION DETAILS UNDER PSL:
Year APO approved (in Lakhs) Expenditure incurred Total Expenditure Unspent amount Remarks
NCF Dept.
2010-11 24.16 7.50 1 8.50 15.66 Rs. 1 Lakh were allotted to WII
2011-12 84.708 59.188 23.520 82.708 2 69.048L allotted for 2011-12+15.66L unspent amount during 2010-11
2012-13 73.488 57.488 14 71.488 2 71.488L allotted for 2012-13+2L unspent amount during 2011-12. 71.488L were utilized while 2L were surrendered.
2013-14 11.70 2.20 9.5 11.70 0 Budget allotted for the purpose has been spent
2014-15 55.555 31.50 18.5 50 5.555 53.555 L allotted for 2014-15 + 2 L unspent amount during 2013-14.
2015-16 34.517 29.522 4.995 34.517 0 28.962 L has been allotted for 2015-16 + 5.555 L unspent of previous year
G. Total 284.128 187.398 71.515 258.913 25.215 the unspent amount has been adjusted in the subsequent year’s allotment.
NATURE CONSERVATION FOUNDATION (NCF): NCF is a public charitable trust, engaged in promoting wildlife Research and conservation in India. A MoU between Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF) based at Mysore and Wild life Wing of HPFD was signed in August 2008 with the objective of promoting scientific wildlife research, management and capacity development in HP. NCF was assigned the task of preparation of Management plan for Project Snow Leopard in collaboration with HPFD which was later expanded to cover the entire 7000 sq. km Spiti Wildlife Division. The plan was completed and approved in late 2010. The budget layout in the plan was prepared for 5 years and first allotment was received for the financial year 2010-11. Most of the activities proposed in the APOs for PSL are undertaken by NCF and WII in collaboration with HPFD. NCF also submits utilization certificates and reports to the HPFD. MoU between NCF and Wild life Wing of HPFD is revised every year which is approved by Chief Wildlife Warden of HP. The Wildlife Wing of HPFD and NCF have been working with the local communities. The project Snow Leopard recognizes the role of Panchayati Raj institutions and other CBOs as primary partners in the Village Wildlife Conservation Committees (VWCC) and Landscape Level Implementation Committees (LLIC). NCF has a base camp in Kibber village with modest facilities for computing, stay and communication. Progress of PSL Research centre: The construction of building for Research centre under PSL at Kibber is under taken by the Department itself which has been completed this year. All the material for fixation of solar lights having 10 KW capacities has been purchased and pending for installment for which correspondence has been done with Him Urja and expected to be installed in May,2016. Population estimation report of Snow Leopard by NCF: Population estimation report for Snow Leopard has been submitted by NCF for the year 2011-12, 2013-14 & 2015. They had installed 30 camera traps from October 2011 to January 2012 over an area of 953 sq. km with inter trap distance 4276m. 81 photographs of 15 individual Snow Leopards were analyzed for a period of 85 days. Using CAPTURE software a range of 15-25 individuals was assessed. Area above 4200m is treated as Snow Leopard habitat for density estimation and area above 5200m has been excluded. The estimation report for the subsequent years is still awaited.
Year of Estimation No. of Camera Traps installed Period of installation No. of Photographs captured No. of individuals identified Approx range of Snow Leopards calculated Average Density SECR estimate
2011-12 30 Oct, 2016 to Jan, 2017 (85 days) 81 15 15-25 .73/100 Sq.km
2013-14 39 Nov,2013 to June,2017 (206 days) 88 14 adults+ 4 cubs .78/100 Sq.km
2014-15 29 May, 15 to Oct, 15 (158 days) 92 14 .80/100 Sq.km
2015-16 …. …. …. …. ….. …..
Telemetry operation: - All the codal formalities such as MoEF permission to radio collar snow leopard, procurement of radio collars, permission to establish wireless and telegraph station, invitation to the experts from foreign country etc. have been completed. The radio collaring is expected to start in the 1st week of May, 2017. In the 1st phase three Snow leopards have been planned to be collared within a period of six weeks. Study of snow leopard habitats in upper Bharmour and Pangi areas:-To explore the presence of snow leopard in other parts of Himachal Pradesh Rs. five lakhs had been allotted to NCF under project Snow Leopard and they had submitted their report in 2016 which states that they had no direct sightings of snow Leopard as well as no indirect signs were observed whereas local people claimed the presence of Snow Leopard in the survey areas. The survey was conducted in Northern Bharmour which includes the Tundah and Kugti WLS. The highest point of study area was Sanakdeik peak at 6010m and lowest was at 2250m. Besides Snow Leopard the survey was also conducted for other carnivores, ungulates and omnivores species. Wild Prey Census: - Under PSL wild prey census is conducted every year twice in the months of May and November. The results are tabulated hereunder:
Study Site Species Area (km2) 2010 (CI 95%) 2011 (CI 95%) 2012 (CI 95%) 2013 (CI 95%) 2014 (CI 95%) 2015 (CI 95%)
Kibber Blue sheep 411 735 (47) 649 (155) 946 (202) 872 (186) 946 (182) 744 (139)
Lossar Ibex 219 30 (14) 34 (24) 30 (15) 52 (25) 38 (11) 44 (23)
Pin Valley Ibex 497 184 (40) 263 (74) 271 (72) 188 (65) 269 (57) 192 (77)
Lingti Blue sheep 186 593 (50) 503 (130) 426 (161) 651 (199) 596 (135) 593 (156)
Tabo Blue sheep 341 509 (53) 476 (98) 409 (91) 397 (121) 461 (82) 572 (158)
Major activities undertaken in Project Snow Leopard:
  • Identification of critical Snow Leopard areas
  • Infrastructural development
  • Procurement of computers/ accessories
  • Procurement of field equipments
  • Provision of snow kit/field kit to frontline staff
  • Exposure tours of staff
  • Publication and development of broachers/signboards etc.
  • Procurement of GIS software, GPS, camera traps etc. and specialized training in their use.
  • Group patrolling of staff
  • Providing medical facilities to staff serving in remote and difficult areas
  • Organizing awareness camps etc.
  • Development of pasture land
  • Population estimation and field survey
  • Capacity building
  • Strengthening Wildlife Research
  • Wildlife veterinary care
  • Vaccination of livestock in and around PAs
  • Habitat improvement
  • Addressing man-animal conflicts
  • Anti poaching activities
  • Monitoring and evaluation etc.
  • Exposure visits and workshops for local people
  • Installation of sign boards and signage depicting wild life values
  • Cattle insurance programme for damage caused by wild animals
  • Telemetry operation