Leopard population declines in Kerala, says central government report

During the 2018-2022 period, the leopard population increased in the Periyar Tiger Reserve. Representative image: Rudi Hulshof/Shutterstock

New Delhi: The Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MOEF&CC) has found that 63 percent of leopards in Kerala were sighted outside the protected area. A report by the ministry also stated a decrease in the number of leopards in Kerala.

According to 2022 statistics, Kerala was home to 570 leopards, 80 less than the 650 rosetted big cats counted in 2018.
During the 2018-2022 period, the leopard population increased in the Periyar Tiger Reserve, whereas Wayanad and the Malayattoor region showed a decline. The decrease in population continued at the Eravikulam National Park, and Konni, Ranni, and Vazhachal divisions.

According to the latest statistics, India has an estimated leopard population of 13,874, up from the 12,852 counted in 2018. Madhya Pradesh has the highest number of leopards — 3,907 — in the country.

Human-wildlife conflicts doubled
The MOEF&CC report also said man-wildlife conflicts in Kerala have doubled in the past seven years. As many as 6,022 such cases were reported in 2015-16, which shot up to 10,036 in 2021-2022.

The report also said 547 cases of leopards attacking humans were registered between 2013 and 2019.
The Wayanad North Division reported the highest number of man-animal conflicts, followed by Kannur and Wayanad South Division, the report said.

Increase in overall leopard population in India
Meanwhile, Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Thursday lauding the country's unwavering dedication to biodiversity. hailed the significant increase in India's leopard population.

India's estimated leopard population rose from 12,852 in 2018 to 13,874 in 2022, the Union Environment Ministry said on Thursday. The "Status of Leopards in India" report, launched by Union Environment Minister Bhupender Yadav, said Madhya Pradesh has the maximum number of leopards in the country at 3,907 (up from 3,421 in 2018).

Reposting the Environment Minister's post on the report on X, Modi said, "Great news! This significant increase in leopard numbers is a testament to India's unwavering dedication to biodiversity."
"I compliment all those who are part of the various collective efforts towards wildlife protection, paving the way for a sustainable coexistence," he said.

The number of felines grew from 1,690 in 2018 to 1,985 in 2022 in Maharashtra, from 1,783 to 1,879 in Karnataka, and from 868 to 1,070 in Tamil Nadu.
"Central India shows a stable or slightly growing leopard population (8,820 in 2022 against 8,071 in 2018), the Shivalik hills and the Indo-Gangetic Plains experienced a decline (from 1,253 in 2018 to 1,109 in 2022)," the environment ministry said in a statement.
(With inputs from PTI)

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