Thursday, July 18, 2024
 
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WRCF organizes Snow Leopard Training for Frontline Staff as “Guardians of the Ghost”

Srinagar, July 09 (Scoop News)-Wildlife Research Conservation Foundation (WRCF), Kashmir and Nature Conservation Foundation (NCF), Karnataka are conducting a training session for the frontline forest and wildlife staff, starting from today, for the monitoring and conservation of the snow leopards in Jammu and Kashmir region. The joint initiative of these two NGOs is supported by the Forest Department and Department of Wildlife Protection, J&K. The training session is aimed at enhancing the skills and knowledge of selected staff from the Forest department and the Wildlife Department of Bandipora and Ganderbal districts. Today marks the first day of this training in Chitternar, Bandipora and the second phase will continue in Ganderbal in August this year.
The inauguration of this training program took place in Dachigam National Park yesterday. The chief guest of this event was Sh. Pradeepchandra Wahule, Regional Wildlife Warden Kashmir, Conservator of Forests, Srinagar. The event was also graced by the presence of the Wildlife Wardens of the Central Division and North Division, and Divisional Forest Officers from Bandipora, Anantnag, and Sindh Division. A total of 71 students joined from Islamia College, Sri Pratap College, Government Degree College, Bemina along with their teachers who got the opportunity to interact with the researchers. They were taken for a nature walk inside Dachigam National Park after the inauguration event and apprised about the biodiversity of the region.
Yesterday, along with the inauguration of this training program, an interim report on the Project Snow Leopard was also released, highlighting progress, findings, and future-plans for this conservation effort. They have detected a minimum of 11 individuals through their camera-traps and estimated a population size of around 20 in the study area. A total of 166 camera-traps were deployed in Kashmir and Jammu including Gurez, Thajwas- Zojila, Warwan, Kishtwar High Altitude National Park, and Paddar. Dr. Munib Khanyari, Program Manager High Altitudes, NCF, added saying, "While this report marks just the start of what we know about snow leopards in Jammu and Kashmir, it is important to remember that none of this was possible without an incredibly collaborative effort. All the way from dedicated Wildlife Officials such as Shri Rashid Naqash, Shri Pradeepchandra Wahule and Dr. M. Kumar, to the indomitable spirits of the field team led by Tanzin, Rinchen, Dorje and Kesang from neighbouring Himachal Pradesh to various local people living in the snow leopard landscape of Jammu and Kashmir. It is when we work together, that we can truly conserve the ghost of the mountains."
Snow leopards are key flagship and indicator species of Indian Himalayas. Acknowledging the importance of this illusive predator and the communities associated with these landscapes, Government of India launched Project Snow Leopard in 2008. The conservation efforts under this project also aims at awareness campaigns and capacity building of the local stakeholders. Dr. Mehreen Khaleel, chair and co-founder of Wildlife Research Conservation Foundation mentions, “Such training programs, especially for the frontline ground staff, can go a long way to make this conservation research project a success in future.”


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