The snow leopard or ounce is a large cat found in central and south Asia. Their inhabitants’ popular spots are alpine and subalpine zone at an elevation from 3000-4000m, some regions of Afghanistan, the Himalayas, and the Tibetan plateau. Evident from the name, snow leopards live in cold, rugged, and steep mountain regions. In India, the Himalayas expanding into Jammu and Kashmir, Ladakh, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, and some regions of Arunachal Pradesh have all the geographical characteristics mentioned above that also fall under a priority global region of WWF and living Himalayans network initiative.
Up to 2017 snow leopard was an endangered species according to the IUCN red-list; until in 2017, their status changed to vulnerable. Currently, there are approximately 516-524 snow leopards in India.
Common name: snow leopard
Scientific name: Panther unica
Population (in-world): 4678-8745 (2016)
Weight: 35-40 kg (female), 45-55 kg (male)
Life cycle: 15-18 years
Here is a list of 10 national parks in India, where you can find a snow leopard:
1.Hemis National Park, Ladakh
Hemis national park is one of the world’s highest national parks and popular for its snow leopards. This national park has the highest density of snow leopard among any of the protected areas in the world. It’s the only northern Himalayan national park, and the largest protected area in India expanded across an area of 4400 sq km.
It also the largest national park in South Asia. The park approximately has 200 snow leopards and many other distinct animals.
2.Kishtwar National Park, Jammu, and Kashmir
Kishtwar national park is a national park spread across an area of 400 sq km in the state of Jammu and Kashmir. Surrounded by the great valley of Kashmir and bounded by the Kibar, Marwa.
Rinnay rivers is an exotic landscape. This national park is one of the prime locations to spot a snow leopard.
3.Dachigam National Park, Jammu, and Kashmir
Kashmir is a state of snow-covered mountain peaks, green valleys, dense forests, steep terrain, and rugged landscape, a perfect habitat for snow leopard. Hence another national park that protects them is Dachingam national park, spanned across an area of 141 sq km. The word Dachingam means ten villages.
They came up with this name in the memory of the relocated villages to form this national park. This national park protects the large cat – snow leopards, including other endangered species.
4.Nanda Devi National Park, Uttarakhand
Nanda Devi national park is one of the oldest national parks of India established in the year 1982. This national park is also one of the world heritage sites by UNESCO. In 2005, the national park extended and renamed as Nanda Devi and Valley of Flowers National Park.
The park expands across a large area of 630.33 sq km in the Nanda Devi Biosphere Reserve. This vast hilly region is a snow leopard habitat and other rare animals like Himalayan black deer and brown bears.
5.Gangotri National Park, Uttarakhand
Gangotri national park is one of those national parks that protect flora and fauna and provides breathtaking scenic views for the humankind.
The park covers a vast area of 2,390 sq km, and it’s the habitat of snow leopards and 15 other types of mammal,s and 150 bird species.
6.Govind Pashu Vihar National Park, Uttarakhand
In the snow leopard protection project, Govind Pashu Vihar National Park’s significance is prominent as the government of India started the project from this national park.
Situated in the Uttarkashi district of Uttarakhand, this park is named after the Indian freedom fighter Govind Ballabh Pant. This place is the habitats of snow leopard and other than that 15 mammal species.
7.Pin Valley National Park, Himachal Pradesh
Pin valley national park is a part of the vast cold desert, located in Lahaul and Spiti’s districts. The park’s high altitude and extremely low-temperature causes in deficiency of vegetation density.
But it is a natural habitat of snow leopard and other endangered species like Siberian ibex, Himalayan snowcock, snow partridge, and snow finch.
8.Great Himalayan National Park, Himachal Pradesh
The great Himalayan national park is one of the national parks having such higher altitudes between 1500-6000 m. This national park is expanded on an area of 1171 sq km.
The great Himalayan national park is also one of the world heritage sites by UNESCO. It is the natural habitat of several flora and fauna species, including 31 mammals and 181 birds. It is one of the exclusive areas of India where we find snow leopards.
9.Khangchendzonga National Park, Sikkim
Khangchendzonga National Park, situated in the eastern Himalayan range in the state of Sikkim. It is one of the prime national parks to spot a snow leopard. Khangchendzonga National Park is one of the UNESCO world heritage sites also the first mixed heritage site of India.
The park is expanded in an area of 1784 sq km and named after the world’s third-highest peak Kanchenjunga. The park is also a habitat for musk deer, Himalayan tahr, sloth bear, etc.
10.Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary, Arunachal Pradesh
Dibang Wildlife Sanctuary is one of the largest wildlife sanctuaries in Arunachal Pradesh. Situated in a vast area of 4149 sq km, this protected region is an exclusive habitat of distinct mammals like snow leopard, Mishmi takin, red panda, musk deer, and Asiatic black deer. Recently a flying squirrel was also spotted on the edges of this national park.
Arunachal Pradesh is also the only state to inhabit major four types of big cats – tiger, leopard, clouded leopard, and snow leopard.