Hyderabad: The leopard population in the two Telugu states is estimated to be 826, according to status of leopards in India 2018 report released by the Union Environment, Forest and Climate Change Ministry.
While Andhra Pradesh is estimated to have 492 leopards, the cat population in Telangana is 334.
The overall leopard population in Andhra Pradesh could be between 461 to 523, while in Telangana this figure could be anywhere between 318 and 350.
In 2014, the leopard population in combined Andhra Pradesh was estimated to be 343. Thus there has been an increase of 140 per cent in the cat population in the two states.
Among seven states in the central and eastern ghats, Andhra Pradesh has the fifth largest number of leopards while Telangana is at the sixth place. The cat population in the region is estimated at 8,071 against 4,456 estimated in 2014.
Leopard population has been estimated based on pictures of animals captured through camera-trapping and gathering other evidence, the same method which was adopted for the tiger census.
According to forest officials in both the Telugu states, there is scope for further increase in the number of leopards if issues related to their habitat are addressed.
"Leopards are widely distributed species and in comparison to other large carnivores have been able to survive better in an increasingly human dominated landscape, largely due to its adaptable behaviour and due to protection," says the report.
"Despite their widespread distribution, leopard habitats are being increasingly fragmented, and such small fragmented areas with low wild prey densities cannot harbour a sizeable population of leopards. This has resulted in leopards venturing out into human dominated landscapes and ending up in conflicts."
There have been many instanced of leopards straying into human habitations over the last few years. Officials attribute this to shrinking forests and low prey.
In October this year, a male leopard was captured near Water and Land Management Training and Research Institute at Rajendranagar on the outskirts of Hyderabad. Earlier, in May a leopard was found sitting near a median on a busy road at Mailardevpally, also on the city outskirts.
Telangana has also seen death of five leopard between 2010 and 2019. Two leopards were killed in road accidents while two others were run over by trains. One leopard died of electrocution.