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For first time, India gets a count of its leopards: 12,000-14,000


The Times of India, New Delhi, 7th September, 2015


 NEW DELHI: India finally has an estimate of its most populous and elusive large predator, the leopard. The first ever count of India's leopards, conducted alongside last year's tiger census, has put the spotted cat population at 7,910 in and around tiger habitats across the country, except the northeast.


The leopards were counted using the same methods adopted for the tiger census, which involved getting pictures of animals through camera-trapping and gathering other evidence of their presence, and then extraploating the numbers to cover the entire forest landscape.


"There are  leopards outside the areas we covered. Based on these numbers, we estimate India's total leopard population to be in the range of 12,000 to 14000," said Yadvendradev V jhala, the lead scientist of the tiger census, who presented the leopard figures at Wildlife Institute of India's annual research seminar in Dehradun Last week.


The census numbers give the first accurate picture of the density and distribution of the spotted cats, which were previously guesstimated to be anywhere to be anywhere between 10,000 and 45,000 in the country.


The exercise covered 3,50,000 sq km of forested habitat across the Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains, central India and the Western Ghats landscape. As many as 17,143 pictures of  1,647 individual leopards were obtained during the exercise that covered most forested landscapes, even the low-grade revenue forests.


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