India’s leopard count jumps 63% in just 4 years

In 2014, the number of leopards in India was 7,910; in 2018,;it rose to 12,852
A leopard in Satpura National Park. Photo: Wikimedia
A leopard in Satpura National Park. Photo: Wikimedia

India’s official leopard count increased 63 per cent from 2014-2018, a new report released by the Government of India July 29, 2021 — World Tiger Day, claimed. Status of Leopards, Co-predators and Megaherbivores-2018 was released by Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Bhupendra Yadav .

Forest officials estimated the number of leopards in tiger range states of India in 2018. There were 12,852 leopards in the country at that time (Standard error range 12,172-13,535), the statement said. This was an increase from the 7,910 (Standard error range 6,566-9,181) leopards counted in 2014, according to the statement.

Yadav said the report “is testimony to the fact that conservation of tigers leads to the conservation of the entire ecosystem.”

In 2018, Down To Earth had asked wildlife experts whether a separate leopard census was needed to confirm the exact population of the species. They had dismissed the need for a separate, new census for leopards, saying it would be an exercise in futility.

However, veteran conservation biologist K Ullas Karanth had noted then that one could not ‘piggy-back’ leopard surveys on tiger surveys, because there were vast areas where the distributions of the two species did not overlap.

Officials also released the names of the 14 tiger reserves that had received the accreditation of the Global Conservation Assured|Tiger Standards (CA|TS), an accreditation tool agreed upon by tiger range countries. CA|TS is a set of criteria which allows tiger sites to check if their management will lead to successful tiger conservation. It was officially launched in 2013.

The reserves accredited under CA|TS are:

  • Manas, Kaziranga and Orang in Assam
  • Satpura, Kanha and Panna in Madhya Pradesh
  • Pench in Maharashtra
  • Valmiki Tiger Reserve in Bihar
  • Dudhwa in Uttar Pradesh
  • Sunderbans in West Bengal
  • Parambikulam in Kerala,
  • Bandipur Tiger Reserve of Karnataka
  • Mudumalai and Anamalai Tiger Reserve in Tamil Nadu

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