The leopard population in the city has declined by 43.9% between 1994 and 2009, a response to the Right to Information Act (RTI) query states. The RTI query filed in August states that the population of leopards in the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP), the only park within city limits, fell from 41 in 1994 to 23 in 2009. The count further went down to 21 according to SGNP’s leopard census report issued earlier this year.
Wildlife experts said the number of leopards in the wild dwindled because many of them were made captive following frequent attacks on humans in 2004.
“After a series of leopard attacks between 2002 and 2005, the forest department laid traps and captured many leopards. This may have reduced the wildcat population,” said Krishna Tiwari city forest head, Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). According to official SGNP figures, 21 leopards are held in captivity inside leopard cages.
SGNP director, Sunil Limaye, said the low population data is not entirely accurate. “These are estimates, so they are not 100% accurate. The pug mark method normally used is not as intensive as the line transect technique.” The line transect method records the number of a certain species of animal or organism found between two lines and how far they are from a certain place or area and how many of them are there.
Among other animals, the sambar population has dipped sharply from 79 in 2003 to 27 in 2009. The number of chital has more than doubled during the same period.