The population of leopard in India has increased by 60 per cent, according to a report released by the government on Monday. The ‘Status of Leopard in India 2018’ report, released by Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar, said that India now has 12,852 leopards, calling it a testimony to the conservation efforts being carried out in the country.

“India now has 12,852 leopards as compared to the previous estimate of 7,910 conducted 2014. More than 60 per cent increase in population has been recorded. The States of Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka and Maharashtra recorded the highest leopard estimates at 3,421, 1,783 and 1,690 respectively,” an official release added.

After releasing the report Javadekar said that monitoring of the tiger in India has clearly shown its umbrella role in the ecosystem, which has shed light on other charismatic species like the Leopard.

India’s world record tiger survey also estimated the population of leopards and the tiger range was found home to 12,852 (12,172-13,535) leopards. They occur in prey rich protected areas as well as multi-use forests. A total of 5,240 adult individual leopards were identified in a total of 51,337 leopard photographs using pattern recognition software. Statistical analysis estimates the leopard population at – 12,800 leopards within the tiger’s range.

“The leopard was estimated across forested habitats in tiger range areas of the country but other leopard occupied areas such as non-forested habitats (coffee and tea plantations and other land uses from where leopards are known to occur), higher elevations in the Himalayas, arid landscapes and majority of North East landscape were not sampled and, therefore, the population estimation should be considered as minimum number of leopards in each of the landscapes”, the release added.

Tiger has not only served as an umbrella species but even its monitoring has helped evaluate the status of other species, like the leopard. The National Tiger Conservation Authority-Wildlife Institute of India (NTCA-WII) shall be reporting on several other species shortly.

Madhya Pradesh reported the highest number of leopards in the state followed by Karnataka and Maharashtra. The Union minister tweeted, “Congratulations to the States of Madhya Pradesh (3,421), Karnataka (1783) and Maharashtra (1690) who have recorded the highest leopard estimates. Increase in tiger, lion and leopards population over the last few years is a testimony to fledgling wildlife and biodiversity.”

“Released the “Status of Leopard in India 2018” report. Happy to announce that, India now has 12,852 leopards. More than 60% increase in population has been recorded over the previous estimate which was conducted in 2014”, the tweet added. WITH ANI INPUTS