The Indian Leopard

About the Species: 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 their ability to adapt to a variety of habitats.
The Indian LeopardConservation Status:

  • IUCN Red List: Vulnerable
  • CITES: Appendix I
  • Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972: Schedule I

Habitat: 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 deserts and the mangroves of Sundarbans.

Distribution:  As for region-wise distribution, the highest number of 8,071 leopards are found in central India and the Eastern Ghats. In the northeast hills, there are just 141 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).

Characteristics:

  • Melanism is a common occurrence in leopards. The entire skin of the animal can be black in color, including its spots. A melanistic leopard is often called Black Panther or jaguar.
  • Leopards are nocturnal animals which means they hunt by night.
  • Food Habits: It feeds on smaller species of herbivores found in its range, such as the chital, hog deer, and wild boar.

Threats:

  • 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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