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The Indian Leopard

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

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 its ability to adapt in a variety of habitats. 

Conservation 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 desert and the mangroves of Sundarbans. 

 

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. 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 

  • Features: 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. 
  • 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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