Status of leopards in India, 2018 Report

Source: The Indian Express

News: Union Environment Minister has released the Status of Leopards in India 2018 Report.


Status of leopards in India

Key Takeaways from the report:

  • Method Used: The leopard population has been estimated using camera trapping method apart from satellite imaging and field work by teams of forest officers.
  • Leopards in India: There are 12,852 leopards in India as of 2018 as compared to the previous estimate of 7910 conducted 2014, an increase of 60% in 4 years.
  • Highest Number of Leopards: The highest concentration of the leopard in India is estimated to be in Madhya Pradesh(3,421) followed by Karnataka(1,783) and Maharashtra (1,690).
  • Region Wise Distribution: As for region-wise distribution, the highest number of 8,071 leopards were found in central India and eastern ghats. In the northeast hills, there are just 141 leopards.
  • Indian Leopard or Common Leopard:
    • The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a leopard subspecies widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent.These are the smallest of the big cats known for its ability to adapt in a variety of habitats.
    • Melanism is a common occurrence in leopards, wherein the entire skin of the animal is black in colour, including its spots.Leopards are nocturnal animals which means they hunts by night.It feeds on smaller species of herbivores found in its range, such as the chital, hog deer and wild boar.
    • Vegetation: In India, the leopard is found in all forest types, from tropical rainforests to temperate deciduous and alpine coniferous forests. It is also found in dry scrubs and grasslands, the only exception being desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans.
    • Distribution: Its range stretches from the Indus river in the west, the Himalayas in the north, and all the way to the lower course of the Brahmaputra in the east.
    • Conservation Status:
      • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
      • Wildlife (Protection)Act,1972: Schedule I
      • CITES: Appendix I
    • Concerns:
      • Fragmentation of forests as well as the quality of forests
      • Human-Leopard conflict: Leopards are not like tigers who don’t like humans and therefore don’t venture out. Leopards are far more adaptable and when loss of habitat takes place, they move closer to human settlements and that’s when the conflict takes place.
      • Poaching of Leopards
      • Depletion of natural prey among others.
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