Uttarakhand government will establish a snow leopard conservation centre in Uttarkashi. The centre will be created at Lanka, in Bhairon Ghati.

In connection with the project, Uttarakhand chief minister Trivendra Singh Rawat held a meeting with state forest minister Harak Singh Rawat and other top officials of the forest department in Dehradun on Saturday.

In the high level meeting it was decided to conduct a census of snow leopards in the hill state.

Stressing on the need for conservation of snow leopards, chief minister Trivendra Rawat said, “Those areas where snow leopards were seen in the recent years should be identified by the forest department in collaboration with local people and military forces. Census should be conducted in such areas. Conservation of snow leopards and other wildlife will give a boost to winter tourism in the state.”

The forest department conducts census of different wild animals in Uttarakhand, but they have never conducted census of snow leopards in the state.

Different research reports indicate the presence of 86 snow leopards in Uttarakhand. Very recently snow leopards were sighted in districts like Uttarkashi, Pithoragarh and Chamoli. Pair of snow leopards was also captured on a hidden camera at Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve recently.

Forest department has also registered the presence of snow leopards in many places. A top carnivore of the ecological pyramid of the high altitude ecosystems, the snow leopard is considered as the flagship species for the high Himalayas. At present, snow leopard is threatened due to poaching for skin and bones (for illegal international trade).