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DECLINING LEOPARD POPULATION

  Jun 21, 2020

DECLINING LEOPARD POPULATION

Introduction

There are four distinct sub-populations of leopards in India with high genetic variations — leopards of the Western Ghats, the Deccan Plateau semi-arid region, the Shivalik mountains, and the Terai region in North India. They exist inside and outside forest areas close to human habitations.

What are  the findings?

The assessment of genetic data has revealed a possibly human-induced population decline of 75% to 90% among leopards in India in the past 120 to 200 years. The report has used faecal samples to study genetic markers that revealed genetic variations and the demographic history of leopards.

Why is the study is significant?

The findings are significant because leopards are otherwise among the most adaptable carnivores, and are known to exist very close to human habitations. This is probably the first study to use genetic tools to quantify decline in leopard populations.

Reasons For decline of population according to Report.

  1. In the 1850s to 1950s, there was a lot of trophy hunting of all large wildlife, including tigers, leopards and rhinos. 
  2. After the 1900s, there was large-scale decline in habitats, particularly grasslands and scrubland. 
  3. There was a deterioration in the quality of forests leading to prey loss.
  4. The decline in their spatial distribution may be a result of all of this, pushing the species to its limits.

What are the suggestions?

It recommended that similar conservation attention be given to leopards as is given to tigers to contain a further decline in distribution and numbers.