An estimated 12,852 leopards were counted in the tiger range landscape in 2018, a significant increase from 2014 when the figure stood at 7,910 in forested habitats of 18 tiger-bearing states of the country.
A maximum of these leopards are found in Madhya Pradesh (3,421) followed by Karnataka (1,783), and Maharashtra (1,690), according to the ‘Status of Leopards, Co-Predators and Megha-herbivores in India 2018’ report released by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav at an event to mark the Global Tiger Day on Thursday.
During all India tiger estimation exercise in 2018, leopard population was also estimated within the forested habitats in tiger-occupied states as the overall leopard population in the tiger range landscape in 2018 was estimated at 12,852 (standard error range 12,172-13,535). This is a significant increase from the 2014 figure that was 7,910 (SE 6,566-9,181) in forested habitats of the 18 tiger-bearing states.
The Shivalik Hills and Gangetic plains have 1,253 (1,158-1348) leopards (Bihar 98, Uttarakhand 839, and Uttar Pradesh 316), central India and Eastern Ghats have 8,071 (7,654-8,488) (Andhra Pradesh 492, Telangana 334, Chhattisgarh 853, Jharkhand 46, Madhya Pradesh 3,421, Maharashtra 1,690, Odisha 760, and Rajasthan 476), the Western Ghats have 3,387 (Goa 86, Karnataka 1,783, Kerala 650 and Tamil Nadu 868).
The northeastern hills and Brahmaputra flood plains have a total of 141 (Arunachal Pradesh 11, Assam 47 and West Bengal 83), the report said.
Releasing the report, the Minister said that it is a testimony to the fact that conservation of tigers leads to the conservation of entire ecosystem.
After tigers and lions, leopards occupy the next level in the trophic pyramid along with dhole.
Leopards’ historic range spanned across nearly 35,000,000 square km, covering all of the sub-Saharan North, Central and South Africa, the Middle East, Asia Minor, South and Southeast Asia, and extends into the Amur Valley in the Russian Far East. Island ranges included Sri Lanka, Java, Zanzibar and Kangean. Leopards are extremely versatile and occur in almost every kind of habitat, from the rainforests of the tropics to deserts and temperate regions. The Indian subspecies is found in all habitats of India save the arid Thar desert and Sundarbans mangroves, the report said.