JaipurThere has been a 12% increase in the leopard count in Jhalana forest area of Jaipur, according to the Waterhole Census-2019 conducted recently. The census reveals that the number of leopards in the Jhalana forests has increased to 28 this year in comparison to 25 registered last year (2018). “It (the increase in leopard count) is result of the department’s effort to provide protected environment to the wildlife. The biotic pressure has been reduced by constructing wall and effective monitoring,” said a senior forest official, who is not authorised to speak to media (if this is not the case, give the officer’s name). Though, he said, the waterhole census or any other method to assess wildlife population is not accurate, but it shows trend and gives rough estimate.The annual waterhole census is conducted every year on Buddha Purnima. This year, the forest department counted animals at 36 water bodies of Jhalana and Galta forest block for 24 hours – on May 18-19.According to the official figures, the leopard count in the Jhalana forests is increasing every year since 2014 —eight in 2014, 13 in 2015 and 12 in 2016. The leopard is an endangered animal under Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.The census also included other animals such as jackal, hyena, porcupine and cheetal. This year, the number of jackals was recorded at 35, one more than recorded last year. In 2017, there were 49 jackals in the Jhalana forests. Similarly, number of hyenas too has increased this year to seven from five recorded in 2018 and 2017. In 2015, there were 15 hyenas. The number of porcupines has increased considerably this year — from 16 in 2018 to 45 this year. The count of cheetal (spotted dear) too has increased to 16 from 14 in 2018 and 12 in 2017.According to the Wildlife Census 2016, the forest areas in Jaipur, including Nahargarh, had 41 leopards constituting just over 8 per cent of the total leopard population in Rajasthan, which was pegged at 508. Of this, Kumbhalgarh forest reserve is home to 95 leopards, followed by Mount Abu (46), Sita Mata (40), Todgarh Raoli (35) and Panther Conservation Reserve of Sumerpur (28).