Leopards grow 17% in U.P; actual number may be more - Hindustan Times

Leopards grow 17% in U.P; actual number may be more

By, Lucknow
Mar 01, 2024 07:34 PM IST

U.P. falls in Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains (SHGP) landscape of the national forest regime, which also includes Bihar and Uttarakhand.

The leopard count in Uttar Pradesh has increased by 17%, against national rise in count by about 8%, says the report ‘Status of Leopards in India’, released on February 29. The report was made public after a pan-India leopard census was carried out in 2022.

For representation only (HT File Photo)
For representation only (HT File Photo)

U.P. falls in Shivalik Hills and Gangetic Plains (SHGP) landscape of the national forest regime, which also includes Bihar and Uttarakhand. U.P. is the only state to see a rise in the number of leopards.

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SHGP has seen a cumulative fall from 1,253 in 2018 to 1,109 leopards in 2022. Bihar (98 to 86) and Jharkhand (839 to 652) both registered a fall in leopard count. According to the data released by the national tiger conservation authority based upon survey in tiger sanctuaries and reserves, the country has seen a rise in leopard count from 12,852 in 2018 to 13,874 in 2022. This is close to an 8% rise.

“It is an achievement that has contributions from all the staff of the department. Work was done to provide wild animals a place in the core forest area and ample prey which has brought results,” said Sunil Chaudhary, additional principal chief conservator of forests. He also heads Project Tiger in the state.

The rise in leopard population comes a few months after the tiger count too recorded a rise in the state. According to the data released in August 2023, Uttar Pradesh’s tiger count went up from 173 in the 2018 census to 205 in 2022, which is 18%. The rise is almost double (88.07%) since 2006, when there were 109 tigers in the state.

Forest officials said that with an increase in dense forest area in the state, it is expecting a considerable rise and hopes to take this percentage to 15 by 2030.

“The Shivalik landscape has seen an increase in recent years. 65% of the leopard population is present outside protected areas in the landscape, which will lead to an increase in human injury and death cases. In Uttar Pradesh, both the leopard and tiger numbers have increased which requires active engagement for management of human-animal conflict by the forest department and civil administration,” the report read.

Since the report is based upon tiger sanctuaries and reserves, leopards live also near city limits, hence actual numbers might even be more, said an official.

Among other states, Andhra Pradesh recorded 569 leopards, Telangana 297, Chattisgarh 722, Jharkhand 51, Madhya Pradesh 3,907, Maharashtra 1,985, Odisha 568 and Rajasthan 721. These states come under Central India and Eastern Ghats landscape.

Goa in the Western Ghats landscape recorded 77 leopards, Karnataka 1,879, Kerala 570 and Tamil Nadu 1,070.

In the North eastern Hills and Brahmaputra floodplain landscape Arunachal Pradesh recorded 42 leopards, Assam 74 and North Bengal 233.

The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is distributed across a variety of forested habitats in India, Nepal, Bhutan, and parts of Pakistan, excluding mangrove forests and desert habitats. Despite being listed in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 and classified as “Vulnerable” by the IUCN Red List, leopard populations face significant threats including habitat loss, fragmentation, human-wildlife conflict, poaching, and illegal trade, read the report.

Leopards occupy a prominent position in the trophic pyramid alongside tigers, lions and dholes exhibiting adaptability in habitat and dietary preferences, and playing a vital role as top predators in a wide array of landscapes across India.

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