WWF India today partnered real estate firm Tata Housing to launch a project for conservation of endangered specie 'snow leopards' in the country. Snow leopards population is estimated at 400-700 in India out of 7,000 worldwide. They are found across 1.3 lakh sq km in Jammu and Kashmir, Himachal Pradesh, Uttarakhand, Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh. International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN), the world's oldest and largest global environmental organization, has listed snow leopards as 'endangered' species. WWF-India and Tata Housing launched the project 'Save Our Snow Leopards' and also an online fund raising system for conservation of this species. Project aims to study status and distribution of snow leopards in India, address conflict of this animal with human being and provide base-line data to government's programme. Tata group's realty arm Tata Housing would donate Rs 15 lakh per year in the project, Tata Housing CEO and Managing Director Brotin Banerjee told reporters here. "Since 2012, we are associated with WWF-India for tiger conservation.
Now, we have taken this partnership to second stage by launching this project to save snow leopards," he added. Through online crowd funding platform, WWF-India and Tata Housing aims to raise at least Rs 15 lakh. "Snow leopards are strikingly beautiful, but sadly very few people are even aware of their existence. Due to the high altitude, and difficult terrain they inhabit, snow leopards are also one of the least studies large wild cats, which in turn makes their conservation all the more difficult," WWF India Secretary General and CEO Ravi Singh said. Singh expected that this campaign would not only raise the required funds for the snow leopard conservation but also help increase awareness level. The funds raised would be utilised to set up camera traps to study the exact status and distribution of snow leopards in Sikkim and Arunachal Pradesh to start with. For effective management of snow leopard-human conflict, the fund would be used to support the construction of predator proof livestock pens for local communities. "Conflict management would be initiated in Kargil, Ladakh range where there have been reports of such conflicts between snow leopard and human being," said Dipankar Ghose, Director (Species and Landscape Programme) at WWF-India. Asked about the GPS system used in Nepal to track snow leopards, Singh said: "We do not want to do that".