Meat of over one kilogram is the bare minimum requirement for a leopard’s daily meal. They are called opportunistic hunters since their diet changes with the availability of prey.
But do leopards have any meal preferences?
The Times of India, attributing a study by the Navsari Agriculture University, reports that pigs comprise 28% of the leopard’s diet. The study was based on the landscape of South Gujarat.
The researchers told the daily, “Any action taken to address the pig population issue should be carefully considered as it could have unintended consequences for leopard survival and potentially increase the incidence of livestock depredation.”
The paper claimed that previous studies in Goa on the leopard’s diet reported a high consumption of wild boars in the human-dominated landscape. The availability of pigs, it added, might contribute to lower consumption of other prey species like dogs and cows.
In 350 leopard scat collections and analyses between 2020 and 2022, the researchers identified 17 prey species, comprising eight wild and eight domestic animals. The study, which covered 17,703 square kilometres, was conducted in five districts of South Gujarat: Surat (7,657 sq km), Tapi (3,139 sq km), Navsari (2,196 sq km), Valsad (2947 sq km), and the Dangs (1,764 sq km).
The study found that 28% of a leopard’s diet consisted of pigs, with rodent species accounting for 14%, poultry for 10%, bird species for 7%, Indian hare for 7%, domestic cows for 6%, and domestic dogs for 5%. Other animals accounted for less than 5% of the diet in the remaining 33% of the cases.