On December 21, 2020, Union Minister for Environment, Forest & Climate Change (MoEFCC), Prakash Javadekar released the ‘Status of Leopards in India, 2018’ report. The report states that India has recorded a 60% rise in Leopard population across the country and it now has 12, 852 Leopards. The states Madhya Pradesh (3, 421), Karnataka (1, 783) & Maharashtra (1, 690) recorded the most number of leopards.
i.India had recorded 7, 910 Leopards in 2014.
ii.India was divided into 4 regions – Shivalik Hills & Gangetic Plains Landscape, Central Indian Landscape & Eastern Ghats, Western Ghats Landscape and North East Hills & Brahmaputra Plains Landscape.
iii.The study has been conducted using Satellite imaging, camera traps & field work by teams of Forest Officials & teams of Wildlife Institute of India (WII) & National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
iv.The teams also used M-STrIPES (Monitoring System for Tigers-Intensive Protection & Ecological Status) Android App for the survey.
i.The report states that poaching, habitat loss, depletion of natural prey and human-leopard conflict are major threats to leopard populations.
ii.Leopards have faced a 75-90% population decline in the last ~ 120-200 years due to humans.
iii.Regions which recorded maximum number of leopards – Central India & Eastern Ghats (8, 071), Western Ghats (3, 387), Shivalik Hills & Gangetic Plains (1, 253) & North East Hills & Brahmaputra Flood Plains (141).
iv.The study has highlighted the increase in population of Asiatic lions and tigers in the country.
v.Around 100 Tigers have been found in the forests of the North Eastern States.
The full report can be accessed here.
Conservation Status of Leopard:
i.It is listed as ‘Vulnerable’ by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
ii.It is listed in Appendix I of Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna & Flora (CITES).
iii.It is protected in India under Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972, India which is the highest level of protection for animals in India.
National Tiger Conservation Authority:
i.NTCA was established in 2005 is a statutory body under the MoEFCC.
ii.It was set up on recommendations of the Tiger Task Force.
iii.It was constituted under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972, as amended in 2006, for strengthening tiger conservation.
Recent Related News:
i.November 10, 2020, WII in the 2nd phase of its survey of the entire main stem of Ganga river found that 49% of the river has high biodiversity and increased biodiversity sightings.
ii.August 5, 2020 India’s 1st snow leopard conservation centre is to be set up in Lanka, near Bhaironghati bridge in Uttarkashi district, Uttarakhand.
About Wildlife Institute of India (WII):
WII is an Autonomous Institution of the MoEFCC.
Chairman – R.P. Gupta (Secretary of Environment, Forest and Climate Change)
Location – Dehradun, Uttarakhand
About National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA):
NTCA has been constituted under Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972.
Chairperson – Union Minister of MoEFCC (Prakash Javadekar)
Headquarters – New Delhi