IAS Gyan

Daily News Analysis


2nd March, 2024 Environment


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Picture Courtesy: https://scroll.in/latest/981937/indias-leopard-population-rises-over-60-since-2014-to-12852-shows-government-report

Context: The National Tiger Conservation Authority and Wildlife Institute of India presented the fifth cycle leopard population estimation in India, indicating a stable leopard population of 13,874 individuals, with noteworthy variations observed across different regions of the country.


  • The Status of Leopards in India report was released by the Union Minister for Environment, Forest and Climate Change, providing valuable insights into the population dynamics and conservation status of leopards in the country.
  • The fifth cycle of leopard population estimation focused on forested habitats within 18 tiger states, covering major tiger conservation landscapes. Non-forested habitats and high Himalayas were not sampled. The survey included a foot survey covering 6,41,449 km and strategically placed camera traps at 32,803 locations, resulting in 4,70,81,881 photographs.

Key Findings of the Report

  • Leopard Population Estimate: The report estimates India's leopard population at 13,874 individuals, with a stable population compared to the 2018 estimate of 12,852 individuals. The survey covered 70% of the leopard habitat, excluding areas like the Himalayas and semi-arid regions not included in tiger habitats.
  • Regional Variations: Central India shows a stable or slightly growing leopard population, while the Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains experienced a decline. Across India, in areas sampled both in 2018 and 2022, there is a 1.08% per annum growth. The Shivalik hills and Gangetic plains show a 3.4% decline per annum, with the largest growth rate observed in Central India and Eastern Ghats at 1.5%.
  • State-wise Distribution: Madhya Pradesh houses the largest leopard population in the country (3907), followed by Maharashtra, Karnataka, and Tamil Nadu. Tiger reserves or sites with the highest leopard populations include Nagarajunasagar Srisailam (Andhra Pradesh), Panna (Madhya Pradesh), and Satpura (Madhya Pradesh).
  • Conservation Challenges: The report underscores the critical role of Protected Areas in conserving leopard populations. While tiger reserves are important strongholds, addressing conservation gaps outside protected areas is equally vital. Rising incidents of human-wildlife conflict pose challenges, highlighting the need for collaborative efforts involving government agencies, conservation organizations, and local communities.

Leopards in India




Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)


Tropical rainforests (Western Ghats, Northeast India)

Temperate deciduous forests (Central India)

Alpine coniferous forests (Himalayas)

Dry scrubs (Rajasthan, Gujarat)

Grasslands (limited distribution)


Found throughout mainland India, extending from: Indus River (west), Himalayas (north), Brahmaputra River (east), Excluding some parts of the Gangetic Plains and desert regions.

Physical Characteristics

Length: 112-190 cm (excluding tail)

Weight: 35-77 kg

Rosette coat pattern with various colour variations

Powerful legs and strong body for climbing and hunting


Carnivore, preying on a variety of animals depending on habitat:  Ungulates (chital, sambar, deer), Monkeys, wild boar, rodents, Birds, reptiles, fish (opportunistic)


Solitary animals except during mating season

Nocturnal hunters, but can be active during the day

Excellent climbers and swimmers

Territorial, marking their range with scent markings


Females reach sexual maturity at 2-3 years old

Gestation period: 90-100 days

Litter size: 1-4 cubs

Cubs become independent at 18-24 months


Poaching for skin and body parts

Habitat loss due to deforestation and development

Human-leopard conflict due to livestock depredation and encroachment on leopard territory

IUCN Status

The IUCN Red List classifies the leopard (Panthera pardus) as Vulnerable.

Conservation Efforts

Protected areas like national parks and wildlife sanctuaries

Anti-poaching patrols and awareness campaigns

Habitat restoration projects

Mitigating human-leopard conflict through livestock protection measures and community outreach programs

Must Read Articles:

International Leopard Day:  https://www.iasgyan.in/daily-current-affairs/international-leopard-day#:~:text=Leopards%20are%20generally%20asocial%20animals,%27urr%2Durr%27%20sound.


Q. What is the current conservation status of leopards in India?

A) Endangered

B) Critically Endangered

C) Near Threatened

D) Vulnerable

Answer: C


Leopards in India are classified as "Near Threatened" on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List. This designation indicates that while they are not currently facing the immediate risk of extinction, their population is declining, and conservation efforts are necessary to ensure their long-term survival.