60% Rise in Numbers of Leopards in India | Status Report 2018

60% Rise in Numbers of Leopards in India | Status Report 2018

On 21st December 2020, Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Shri Prakash Javadekar released the Summary Report of Status of Leopards in India, 2018. As per this new report, India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7910 conducted 2014. More than 60% increase in population has been recorded with the States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.

Leopard (Panthera pardus) is the most widely distributed and adaptable member of the family Felidae. The Indian subspecies, Panthera pardus fusca, is found in all forested habitats in the country, absent only in the arid deserts and above the timber line in the Himalayas (1). 

However, their current distribution and numbers have significantly decreased across the range due to habitat loss, prey depletion, conflict and poaching over the last century. Consequently, the species has been classified has ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN(2).

Status of Leopards in India, 2018

India’s tiger survey has also estimated the population of leopards and the tiger range was found home to 12,852 (12,172-13,535) leopards. They occur in prey rich protected areas as well as multi-use forests.A total of 5,240 adult individual leopards were identified in a total of 51,337 leopard photographs using pattern recognition software. Statistical analysis estimates the leopard population at – 12,800 leopards within the tiger’s range.

The leopard number was estimated across forested habitats in tiger range areas of the country but other leopard occupied areas such as non-forested habitats (coffee and tea plantations and other land uses from where leopards are known to occur), higher elevations in the Himalayas, arid landscapes and majority of North East landscape were not sampled and, therefore, the population estimation should be considered as minimum number of leopards in each of the landscapes.

Tiger has not only served as an umbrella species but even its monitoring has helped evaluate the status of other species, like the leopard. The National Tiger Conservation Authority-Wildlife Institute of India(NTCA-WII) shall be reporting on several other species shortly.

The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.

State-wise Estimated Number of Leopards

Status of Leopards in India 2018

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References:

  • Cover images – 2018 Report
  1. Prater 1980, Daniel 1996
  2. Stein et al. 2016