Leopards in India

An estimated declining number of 7,000-10,000 leopards survive in India, where it is protected.

Endangered leopards battling for survival

Like tigers, endangered leopards too are battling for survival with as many as 160 already dead so far since this January in the country against 290 last year. The trend is not a recent phenomenon. In the last 12 years since 1994, India has lost at least 3,189 leopards, according to an estimate by an NGO, Wildlife Protection of India (WPSI).

Notes from Wikipedia on Indian leopards

  • Indian leopards are distributed all over India, in Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh and parts of Pakistan. They inhabit tropical rain forests, dry deciduous forests, temperate forests and northern coniferous forests up to an altitude of 2.500 m above sea level, bordering snow leopard habitat.
  • Prey preference estimates in southern India showed that the most favoured prey of the leopard was the chital.
  • In India, leopards can be seen in the Madhya Pradesh and Uttarakhand national parks.
  • Despite being the most widespread cat, the Indian leopard faces several types of threat. The animal shares its habitat with Asiatic lions, Bengal tigers, bears, wolves, Asian elephants, hyenas, and wild dogs. These animals may kill leopard cubs given a chance. In addition, lions and tigers may even attack a full-grown leopard.
  • Apart from its natural enemies, the leopard’s main threat is people due to loss of habitat and poaching. In some parts of India, the big cat thrives alongside human settlements, where it may prey on domestic livestock resulting in human-leopard conflict. These conflicts have increased in recent years due to human population growth. To avoid such problems, India’s Forest Department regularly sets up traps in potential conflict areas and release the captured leopards in an appropriate habitat away from settlements.
  • Most healthy leopards prefer wild prey to humans, but injured, sickly or struggling cats with a shortage of regular prey may resort to hunting humans and become habituated to it. Two extreme cases occurred in India: the first leopard, “the Leopard of Rudraprayag“, may have killed over 125 people; the second, the “Panar Leopard“, was believed to have killed more than 400, after injury by a poacher made it unable to hunt normal prey.

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