Releasing the Status of Leopards report in New Delhi, Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar has said that increase in Tiger, Lion and Leopards numbers over the last few years is a testimony to the conservation efforts and of the fledgeling wildlife and biodiversity of the country.
According to the Status released yesterday, India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7,910 conducted in 2014. More than 60 per cent increase in population has been recorded. The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively.
Speaking on the occasion, Mr Javadekar remarked that monitoring of the tiger in India has clearly shown its umbrella role in the ecosystem, which has shed light on other charismatic species like the Leopard.
India's world record tiger survey also estimated the population of leopards and the tiger range was found to be 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. The statistical analysis estimates the leopard population at - 12,800 leopards within the tiger's range.
The leopard 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 the majority of North East landscape were not sampled and, therefore, the population estimation should be considered as a 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 soon.
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi, today expressed happiness over the increasing population of Leopards in our country and congratulated all those who are working towards animal conservation.
In a tweet, the Prime Minister said, "Great news!
After lions and tigers, the leopard population increases.
Congratulations to all those who are working towards animal conservation. We have to keep up these efforts and ensure our animals live in safe habitats."