Hyderabad: The first ever leopard census in India, carried out by the Wild Life Institute of India, has exposed the claims of AP and TS forest officials regarding an increase in the population of leopards.
According to the census, undivided AP had 343 leopards. The total leopard population of the country is estimated at 12,000 to 14,000. The forest departments had been claiming that spotting and straying of leopards into human habitations had increased which indicated a population spill-over.
Asked about the report, TS chief wild life warden P.K. Sharma said he was yet to read it. “The actual population should be more than the figures they have quoted. It is only an estimation and not counting. The data and evidences that we had collected through various means were sent it to the WII and they have analysed the data and inferred the figures. We will analyse the data ourselves and will come out with the figures again.” Wild life activists differed with the officials and said the population of leopards was coming down.
Wild life activist and TS biodiversity committee member Devidas Manghnani said, “There is an urgent need to start a Project Leopard like Project Tiger in the states where their population is less. Leopard is a more graceful animal than other big cats. It is very adaptive. As an essential carnivore, its number shows the quality of the forest. ”
“The leopard is a shy animal. It needs space and a prey base to proliferate. Prey like wild boar and ungulates is needed. Like for tigers, there is no monitoring of the leopard population.”