Uttarakhand Tourism is all set to arrange winter-special snow leopard tours for the first time in February. The snow-leopard tours are being arranged in Harsil, a beautiful village on the banks of the Bhagirathi river, to promote wildlife conservation. Harsil is also known as the “mini Switzerland of India”.
The first batch of tourists will be chosen on a first-come, first-serve basis. The tourism body through Twitter made the announcement. The initiative is part of the SECURE Himalaya Project — Securing livelihoods, preservation, sustainable use, and recovery of high range Himalayan ecosystems. Led by the Indian government and United Nations Development Programme(UNDP), with the assistance of the Global Environment Facility (GEF), the project aims to “ensure the conservation of locally and globally vital biodiversity, land and forest resources in the high Himalayan ecosystem, while improving the lives and livelihoods of local communities,” For the snow leopard tours, GEF, the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, UNDP India, and Uttarakhand Forest Department have also partnered with the state tourism board.
Uttarakhand announced India’s first Snow Leopard Conservation Centre in Uttarkashi in August 2020. As per the analysis, there were about 86 snow leopards in Uttarakhand till last year. The snow leopard is a Schedule I animal under the Wildlife Protection Act of India. Known to be quite exclusive in nature, the animal is also listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature.