Uttarakhand, land of the Rudrapayag maneater, will see more human-leopard conflict in future, warns report

Training of forest staff, timely compensations and awareness among local communities;can help alleviate the problem, says report released by Centre
A leopard with a Hog Deer kill. Representative photo from iStock
A leopard with a Hog Deer kill. Representative photo from iStock

It was in 1926 that Colonel Edward James ‘Jim’ Corbett finally shot and killed the Maneater Leopard of Rudraprayag in the hills of the colonial United Provinces. Corbett died long ago. But the area — today’s Uttarakhand — still sees human-leopard conflict, which will intensify in the future, according to a new report.

Besides Uttarakhand, other states such as Uttar Pradesh and Bihar, which straddle the Shivalik hills and the plains of the Ganga, will also see intensified human-leopard and human-tiger conflict, according to Status of Leopards in India 2022 released by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav on February 29, 2024.

“Uttarakhand harbours (a) major portion of the leopard population in the (Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains) landscape, and the numbers will be more given that the hills of the state were not sampled for leopards,” the report noted.

It added:

All states in this landscape are facing human-animal conflict with respect to tiger and leopard, this conflict will intensify in future and the state needs to take pro-active measures to avoid loss of life and property in such cases.

In fact, the human-leopard conflict in Uttarakhand is no longer limited to the rural areas of the state, according to the report and has spread to urban areas. It cited a leopard attack in the township of Raipur on the outskirts of Dehradun in January 2024:

In the past 5 years there have been nearly 2,000 human-animal conflicts (that includes injuries caused to humans and death). Of this, around 570 were attributed to leopards (Uttarakhand Forest Department 2024). In the state of Uttarakhand, 30 per cent of all the human death and injury cases by wildlife were caused by leopards (Uttarakhand Forest Department, 2024).


Future hotspots of such conflict — as pointed out by the report — include Dehradun Forest Division, Terai West and Terai East.

The Dehradun Forest Division was camera trapped for the first time and found to have high leopard density, besides being a location that reported frequent movement of leopards in human habitations.

“Terai West has seen significant increase in both tiger and leopard population. With frequent tiger attacks on people reported in the Terai (area south and east of Corbett Tiger Reserve) and a high density of leopard in the area as well, there is an urgent need to sensitise people about movement in forest,” the report observed.

The first step towards managing the conflict, according to the report should be training of forest staff in the forest divisions and territorial forests. This is because 65 per cent of Uttarakhand’s leopards are present outside Protected Areas.

Timely compensations and awareness among local communities will also help alleviate the problem, according to the report.

“Both Terai West and Terai East are connected to Corbett and Pilibhit Tiger Reserve respectively and have the potential to be declared as Tiger Reserves. This will assist in bringing much needed resources for better management,” it added.

The estimation found the state to be home to 652 leopards, as compared to 839 in 2018.

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