Poaching, accidents, man-animal conflicts pose a serious threat to leopard population in India as the deaths of the spotted cat have rose significantly over the last five years.
At least one leopard dies across India every day as in 2018, the country recorded the highest number of leopard deaths since 2014, according to records available with the Wildlife Protection Society of India (WPSI).A total of 460 cases of leopard deaths were registered in India in 2018 compared to 431 in 2017, 440 in 2016, 339 in 2015 and 331 in 2014.
The WPSI data in 2018 also shows that the total population of leopard in India stood at 7,701.
Of the total, 1,817 (the highest number of the country) leopards are counted in Madhya Pradesh, 1,129 in Karnataka, 905 in Maharashtra, 846 in Chattisgarh, 815 in Tamil Nadu, 703 in Uttarakhand, 472 leopards are counted in Kerala, 345 in Odisha, 343 in Andhra Pradesh, 194 in Uttar Pradesh, 71 in Goa, 32 in Bihar and 29 in Jharkhand.
Poaching is a major concern for the conservationists across the globe. In 2018, 155 leopards were hunted or poached across India.
“The leopard is condemned in every which way-poached for its skin and bones, the former to cater to demands of fashion, said Prerna Singh Bindra, a conservationist and wildlife writer.
The deaths of the spotted cats by accidents, attacked by villagers or actions by forest departments and natural causes are also emerged as major concern for the wildlife experts across the world.In 2018, 74 leopards lost their lives by accidents across India. Most of the accidents occurred inside national parks and wildlife sanctuaries. Electric poles, fence, railway tracks, roads within statuaries have been hotspots for accidents.
However, in 2018, a total of 194 deaths of the big cats were caused by natural or other reasons, 79 attacked by villagers and nine cases caused by the action of forest department.
The leopard has been the most extensive habitat compared to lion and tiger. They (leopard) often crosses a forest zone into human settlements in search of easy prey like livestock or stray dogs while the others (lion, tigers) largely limit themselves core forest areas.
The periphery of the forest is where leopard come into conflict with human that sometimes resulted their deaths.