India has up to 14,000 leopards, finds first census

08 September 2015

The very first leopard count in India has put the population of the spotted cats at 7,910. The figure excludes the northeastern region of India, and the total population has been put at 12,000-14,000.

The leopard count was conducted in a similar manner as the usual tiger count where pictures of the leopards were captured using camera-trapping and other evidences were gathered for their presence. After this, the numbers are extrapolated to cover the entire forest landscape. The count was conducted along with the tiger census last year and includes the regions in and around habitats across India.

Lead scientist of the tiger census Yadvendradev V Jhala, who presented the leopard figures at Wildlife Institute of India's annual research seminar in Dehradun last week, said, "There are leopards outside the areas we covered. Based on these numbers, we estimate India's total leopard population to be in the range of 12,000 to 14,000."

Jhala further said, "Most of the leopard populations are contiguous, ensuring a healthy genetic exchange. So, leopards do not face the problems of isolated populations that plague Indian tigers.

''There's an impression that leopards are everywhere. That's not the case. Leopards need a protected patch of forest to occur in the vicinity. They aren't found in purely agricultural stretches.

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