Dehradun, November 3: In a first, the Trivendra Singh-led government in Uttarakhand is making efforts to increase the employment opportunities through the country’s first Snow Leopard Conservation Centre in the hill state. The state government is trying to engage local Himalayan community for conservation of snow leopards in the India-China border area of Uttarkashi district. According to a report by Hindustan Times, the conservation centre will be built at Lanka, near Bhaironghati Bridge in Uttarkashi district. The report quotes Sandeep Kumar, divisional forest officer (DFO) of Uttarkashi forest division saying that the Snow Leopard Conservation Centre is being developed as a centre of excellence with an aim to cater local employment, tourism opportunities and research. The snow leopard is a ‘Schedule I’ animal under the Wildlife Protection Act of India. It is listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Brahma Kamal Flowers Bloom in Uttarakhand’s Rudraprayag District During Off-Season Due to Climate Change, Know Myths Associated With the Plant (Watch Video)
In Uttarakhand, the snow leopard conservation centre aims to give jobs to locals of the hill state through different modes like setting up of cafeteria, souvenir shop, guides for research work among others. The project aims to secure livelihoods, conservation, sustainable use and restoration of high range Himalayan ecosystems. The official said that the Snow Leopard Conservation Centre will help in controlling local tourism through the museums. The Centre will also spread information about all flora-fauna of the snow leopard landscape. The forest official said that any researcher working in the area will need help from locals as the terrain and the landscape is extremely remote and known well by the locals.
The official added that the locals of the hill state will be encouraged from a total of eight villages to work as integrated guides. Moreover, the locals from the bordering villages like Harsil, Mukhwa and others will be trained as conservation guides for trekking, bird-watching as they are accustomed to the local climate and know the flora-fauna well. The HT report quotes Professor Anne Feenstra, the main architect working on the project, saying that the conservation centre is pro-ecology, pro-local and pro-people. Feenstra said that the local craftsmen will be involved in the construction, nature guides will be recruited locally for future training expeditions.
In August, Rawat had held a meeting with the state forest minister and officials from the forest department in this regard. The Chief Minister had said that special efforts should be made to conserve and increase the number of snow leopards in the state. He said areas, where snow leopards have been seen in the last few years, should be identified by the forest department with the help of locals and military forces. Rawat said that snow leopards should be estimated in these areas by making grids, adding that the conservation of snow leopards and other wildlife in the area will give a boost to winter tourism in the state.