A Massive Increase in Leopard Numbers in The Country

In News

The Ministry of Environment, Forests and Climate Change has released the Status of Leopards, 2018 report.

In-Detail

  • There are an estimated 12,852 leopards in the Indian forests.
  • Of these, 3421 are in Madhya Pradesh, 1783 in Karnataka and 1690 in Maharashtra.
  • The previous estimate of these big cats was 7910 and was conducted in 2014.
  • Compared with 2014,more than 60% increase in population has been recorded.
  • Releasing the report, the Environment Minister has pointed that the increase in tiger, lion and leopard populations shows that the conservation efforts are yielding results.
  • It also shows how India is taking care of its environment, ecology and biodiversity.

Distribution

  • The report shows that Central and Eastern Ghats have the highest leopard numbers at 8071.
  • The western ghats region has 3387 leopards, the Shiwaliks and Gangetic plains combined consists of 1253 leopards.
  • In the Northeastern Hill ranges, there are only 141 leopards.
  • The study was conducted by the Wildlife Institute of India and the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
  • Camera traps, satellite imaging, field work by forest officers’ teams were used for the survey.
  • While the increase in leopards numbers is a good sign, conservationists caution that over the last 100-125 years leopard habitats have been shrinking and there is an increased risk of man-animal conflict.
  • The study was carried out only in the tiger-populated forests under Project Tiger, and leopard populations in agricultural, non-forested areas like tea and coffee plantations.
  • Most parts of the Northeast have not been surveyed.
  • The threats to the leopard in India are poaching, habitat loss, depletion of natural prey and human-animal conflict.
  • Fragmentation of forests and increased human-leopard conflict are major threats.
  • When forests get fragmented, leopards venture closer to human settlements, this is when conflict arises. 
  • While development cannot be stopped, green technologies can be deployed to increase forest cover and protect the species.
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