Leopard count dips amid rising cases of human-wildlife conflicts in Uttarakhand

The forests in Uttarakhand that leopards inhabit have been increasingly impacted by fires.
Leopard count dips amid rising cases of  human-wildlife conflicts in Uttarakhand

DEHRADUN: The number of leopards in Uttarakhand has come down to 2,276, which is 652 less than that of last year, according to Wildlife Institute of India data. The leopard count in the hill state stood at 3,115 in 2018 and the numbers declined to 2,928 in 2022.

Forest fires are a significant factor contributing to the diminishing population of leopards, as tigers tend to inhabit dense forests, leaving leopards to hunt in settlements near forested areas. The forests in Uttarakhand that leopards inhabit have been increasingly impacted by fires.

Wildlife experts say the forests of Uttarakhand are a safe natural habitat for leopards. However, with increasing leopard activity near human settlements, there is a rise in human-wildlife conflicts. The primary reasons for this are forest fires and a shortage of food for the leopards.

Leopard attacks on human settlements have been reported in many regions, including Pauri district of the Garhwal division, resulting in loss of life and property.

“Forest fires can be a reason, but the tiger naturally does not allow any other animal to maintain its dominance in the forests. Since the tiger is much stronger, the leopard does not go for conflict in the forests,” said Saket Badola, director of Rajaji Tiger Reserve.

Due to their superior strength in comparison to leopards, tigers exert significant dominance within their territories. Wildlife expert Parag Madhukar Dhakate, an IFS officer, said, “Tigers assert their authority in their territories, intimidating leopards and compelling them to vacate the area. As a result, the leopard population in wildlife reserves, such as Corbett, Rajaji, and Nandhaur, has noticeably declined.”

According forest department, more than 175 leopards are roaming in each district of Uttarakhand. “There are 272 leopards in Almora, 232 in Pauri, 169 in Champawat, 134 in Nainital, 129 in Narendranagar, 145 in Tehri, 117 in Rudraprayag, and 138 in Kedarnath Wildlife Sanctuary,” a forest official said. A forest department report says that in Uttarakhand, 30% of all human deaths and injuries by wildlife were caused by leopards.

Related Stories

No stories found.

X
The New Indian Express
www.newindianexpress.com