BHUBANESWAR: The stripes may not be burning bright in Odisha, the rosettes are. Going by the latest report, leopard count in the State has more than doubled in four years. From 318 in 2014, it stands at approximately 760 now. The Status of Leopards in India 2018 released by Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Prakash Javadekar on Monday indicates a 100 per cent growth in leopard population in the State, if that is any consolation in view of rampant poaching of the large cats.
The survey was done during the all India tiger estimation 2018 to estimate the number of leopards within forested habitats in tiger occupied states and it put the population in 727-793 range. Apart from being highly adaptive in nature, a major reason behind growth of leopard number in the State is that they have a larger prey base compared to tigers.
Their reproduction rate is also higher than the tigers. “Leopards can survive on very adverse conditions as they can live even in degraded forests,” said a senior officer. In Odisha, they are concentrated in Rayagada-Kandhamal belt as well as Sambalpur, Sundargarh and parts of Angul. The Similipal and Satkosia tiger reserves are home to a very good number of leopards. As per the survey, leopards are widely distributed in the forest of Central Indian landscape.
Odisha is at number four among eight states of Central India and Eastern Ghats that also include Andhra Pradesh, Telangana, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra and Rajasthan, in terms of leopard population. The report suggests that India at present has 12,852 leopards as compared to the 2014 census during which the number was around 7,910. Madhya Pradesh with 3,421 leopards tops the table in the entire country. Siddhanta Das, Sandeep Tripathi and Ajay Kumar Mahapatra were the Chief Wildlife Wardens from Odisha who were involved in the tiger and leopard status estimation 2017-19.