In three years, leop­ard pop­u­la­tion swells to 2,500 in Kar­nataka

Hindustan Times (Delhi) - - NATION - Sibi Arasu let­ters@hin­dus­tan­times.com

BENGALURU: There are around 2,500 leop­ards in Kar­nataka, dou­ble the num­ber es­ti­mated in the 2015 tiger cen­sus, as per the first-ever es­ti­mates of the spot­ted cat con­ducted in the state by the Na­ture Con­ser­va­tion Foun­da­tion (NCF) and the state for­est depart­ment .

While the lat­est es­ti­ma­tion cov­ered en­tire states, the 2015 ex­er­cise that es­ti­mated 1,129 leop­ards in Kar­nataka of the to­tal 12,000-14,000 in In­dia was lim­ited to tiger land­scape ar­eas of the state. The sixyear-long study shows how the leop­ard-hu­man con­flict has in­creased in Kar­nataka, like most other big cat habi­tat states in the coun­try. Ut­tarak­hand, Hi­machal Pradesh, Ma­ha­rashta, Ra­jasthan, J&K and As­sam are some of the other states with large in­ci­dents of leop­ard-hu­man con­flict. “While it is good that leop­ard num­bers are in­creas­ing, it is also im­por­tant to mit­i­gate hu­man-leop­ard con­flict,” said con­ser­va­tion­ist San­jay Gubbi, lead au­thor of the study, who used sam­pling­based cam­era traps to es­ti­mate their num­ber. “In this method, the an­i­mals are iden­ti­fied us­ing the rosette pat­terns on their body which are unique to each in­di­vid­ual leop­ard,” he said. Gubbi and team found that 27,418 vil­lages in Kar­nataka have ex­pe­ri­enced hu­man-leop­ard con­flict with most of these vil­lages lo­cated in and around, Udupi, Mysore, Has­san, Mandya and Tumkur. There’ve been 88 hu­man in­juries and 14 hu­man deaths re­lated to this con­flict be­tween 2009 and 2016. Sixty-one leop­ards have also been vic­tims of un­nat­u­ral death be­tween 2013 to 2017, the study said. “The leop­ard is a highly con­flict­prone species and gets a lot of neg­a­tive at­ten­tion,” he said, em­pha­siz­ing on the need to cre­ate aware­ness about in­creas­ing con­flict. The state has taken mea­sures to the check in­creas­ing con­flict by adding new wildlife habi­tats. It has also in­creased the com­pen­sa­tion for hu­man death due to the con­flict from ~2 lakh to ~5 lakh. In 2013, the state es­tab­lished the 906 sqkm Malai Ma­hadesh­wara Wildlife Sanc­tu­ary, which en­abled a 6,500 sqkm con­tigu­ous net­work con­nect­ing 23 dif­fer­ent pro­tected ar­eas -by far, the largest in the coun­try.

PTI

The six­year­long study shows how the leop­ard­hu­man con­flict has in­creased in Kar­nataka and other states.

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