India’s leopard population sees growth of 1.08% per annum

The total population is estimated at 13,874

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The leopard population has grown by over 1000 since 2018 and there is a 1.08 per cent growth per annum, new government data has revealed. 

“India's leopard population is estimated at 13,874 (Range: 12,616 – 15,132) individuals, representing stable population in comparison to the similar area being sampled in 2018 with 12852 (12,172-13,535) individuals,” the government said on Thursday. 

This number would be much more as the sample area taken in this estimation exercise is 70 per cent of leopard habitat. The remaining areas in the Himalayas and semi-arid parts of the country which are not tiger habitats were not sampled. 

The present estimation was carried out by the National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India in collaboration with state forest departments as part of the ‘Monitoring of Tiger, co-predators, prey and their habitat’ exercise. 

According to new findings, Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains have experienced some decline in the population. Although central India showed a stable or slightly growing population of leopards “In Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains, there is a 3.4 percent decline per annum, while the largest growth rate was in central India and eastern Ghats of 1.5 per cent.” 

Union environment minister, Bhupender Yadav said, “Project Tiger's conservation legacy expands beyond tigers, evident in the leopard status report, showcasing broader species protection efforts.” 

“The report emphasizes conservation commitment beyond protected areas, lauding the Forest Department's dedicated efforts. Project Tiger's inclusive approach underscores ecosystem interconnectedness and diverse species conservation.” 

Among the states, Madhya Pradesh houses the largest population of leopards in the country and there population increased from 3421 in 2018 to 3907 in 2022 when the survey was done. Maharashtra and Karnataka follow with 1985 and 1879 leopards, respectively. Tiger Reserves with highest leopard population are Nagarajunasagar Srisailam in Andhra Pradesh followed by Panna in Madhya Pradesh, and Satpura in Madhya Pradesh. 

“The whole exercise included a foot survey spanning 6,41,449 km, camera traps at 32,803 locations resulting in 85,488 photo-captures of leopard,” the government said.   

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