Tribune News Service
New Delhi, December 21
India now has 12,852 leopards, 60 per cent more since their previous estimate in 2014, Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said while releasing the ‘Status of Leopards in India 2018’ report on Monday.
The minister said the rise in leopard numbers following similar reports on tigers and lions show the country was protecting its ecology and biodiversity well.
“There were 8,000 leopards in 2014. Increase in the population of tigers, Asiatic lions and now leopards, shows how India is protecting its environment, ecology and biodiversity,” he said.
According to the report, India’ s leopard population in 2018 was estimated at 12,852, with Madhya Pradesh leading the pack at 3,421 followed by Karnataka 1,783 and Maharashtra 1,690.
“Congratulations to the States of MP (3421), Karnataka(1783) and Maharashtra(1690) who have recorded the highest leopard estimates.
“Increase in tiger, lion and leopard population over the last few years is a testimony to fledgling wildlife and biodiversity,” said Javadekar.
So far as region-wise distribution goes, the highest number of 8,071 big cats were found in Central India and Eastern Ghats, which include Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh.
In the Western Ghat region, which comprises Karnataka, Tamil Nadu, Goa and Kerala, there are 3,387 leopards and 1,253 leopards are in Shivalik and Gangetic Plains which includes Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar.
Leopards are among the most adaptable carnivores and known to exist very close to human habitations.
According to a study, there are four distinct sub-populations of leopards in India with high genetic variations – leopards in the Western Ghats, the Deccan Plateau semi-arid region, the Shivalik mountains, and the Terai region in North India.