INDIAN LEOPARD (Syllabus: GS Paper 3 – Environment)

News-CRUX-10     18th May 2024        
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Context: Recently, Leopard cat  spotted in Maharashtra’s Pench, in what is being billed as Central India’s first sighting of the species.

Indian leopard:

  • About: A subspecies of the leopard (P. pardus) that is widely distributed on the Indian subcontinent. .
  • Habitat: They are adaptable to a range of habitats, including the Himalayan foothills, Western Ghats, dry deciduous forests, and the northeastern regions of India.
    • Conservation status:

    o IUCN Red List: Vulnerable

    o CITES: Appendix I

    o Wildlife (Protection) Act,1972: Schedule I

    • Behavioral pattern:

    o Elusiveness and Solitary Behaviour: The leopard is characterized by its elusive nature, preferring solitude, and is primarily active during the night.

    o Climbing Proficiency: Known for its exceptional climbing abilities, the leopard has been observed resting on tree branches during the day.

    o Tree-Associated Behaviours: The leopard exhibits distinctive behaviours such as dragging its kills up trees and suspending them there. It is also capable of descending from trees headfirst.

    • Population and regional distribution:

    o The leopard population in India witnessed an 8% rise from 12,852 in 2018 to 13,874 in 2022.

    o Madhya Pradesh reported the highest leopard count (3,907), followed by Maharashtra (1,985), Karnataka (1,879), and Tamil Nadu (1,070.

    • Human-Leopard Conflict:

    o Leopards' adaptability  leads to conflict, particularly in villages, as they are known to prey on cattle, resulting in higher mortality rates