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Leopard Count: Guj Govt Data Claims State Ranks Number 2 In India 

| Updated: March 1, 2024 14:19

Gujarat boasts of a higher leopard population than Maharashtra, which has been ranked number two in the union government’s Status of Leopards in India report. The report lists Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Karnataka and Tamil Nadu as the top four states in leopard population. 

Gujarat’s independent census conducted in 2023 shows that Gujarat has the second highest leopard numbers nationally at 2,274. 

The Union government report, which compiles data for 2022, puts Madhya Pradesh on top of the table nationally with 3,907 in 2022. Maharashtra comes second with 1,985 leopards counted in 2022. Karnataka is third with 1,879 leopards. Tamil follows with 1,070. 

Forest officials said, “Union minister for environment, forest and climate change Bhupender Yadav released the report on Status of Leopards in India. Gujarat is not a part of this status report as Gujarat conducts its own census. The 2023 counting revealed that Gujarat has 2,274 leopards — an increase of 63% from 1,395 in 2016.” 

A senior officer said that Saurashtra and Kutch regions alone have 1,102 leopards, higher than Tamil Nadu. State officials said camera traps are not used and they go in for direct counting method wherein there is a possibility that not all leopards get counted. Only those which are sighted at the time of the census are recorded. Also, the Union govt’s report has only considered the country’s tiger habitat areas. 

An expert from Wildlife Institute of India requesting anonymity said that the leopard population is increasing. Attacks on humans indicate this. He said, “Gujarat has always under-reported its count and this is the first time that the state is trying to come close to the real figure. Hence, in 2023 the state declared a 63% increase. Similar, is the case of lions, whose numbers at 674 are under-reported.” 

“Our proposal to use camera trap method for lion census was accepted, but, in order to keep us out of the census, the govt without assigning any reason denied us permission for any research in lion dominated areas,” he added. 

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