Express news service

VIRUDHUNAGAR: Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel Wildlife Sanctuary has the highest density of leopards (around 21 per 100 square kilometers) in the entire Western Ghats landscape, according to a report released by the Department of Environment, Forestry and Climate Change titled ‘Status of Leopards, Co-predators and Megaherbivores in India – 2018’. The report is based on an estimate for the year 2018.

According to the report, the status of leopards, sloth bears, smaller felids, wild canids, megaherbivores and a few mustelids in tiger habitats in 20 states has been estimated.

The report assesses the status of leopards based on data from camera traps and occupation surveys conducted in 2018-19 in 20 states where tigers have been spotted.

868 leopards in Tamil Nadu

Camera traps had been set in 26,838 locations across India, resulting in 34,858,623 photographs of wildlife, including 51,777 of leopards.

Images of 5,240 adult leopards were captured and the overall leopard population in the Indian tiger range landscape was estimated to be 12,852 (standard error (SE) range 12,172 – 13,535) in 2018. , according to the report.

Among these, camera traps were installed at 14 sites in Tamil Nadu, which captured 2,017 images of 629 leopards.

The state’s leopard population has been estimated at 868 (SE: 828-908). There were 815 leopards (SE 587-1.043) in 2014.

In addition, Mudumalai Tiger Reserve, Mukurthi National Park, parts of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve and Kalakad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve have been identified as supporting a high density of leopards, and the wildlife sanctuary. of Srivilliputhur Grizzled Squirrel had the highest leopard density (20.43 (SE: 10.02 – 31.04) in the entire Western Ghats landscape, according to the report.

3,387 leopards in the Western Ghats

The report states that leopard density was calculated from 46 camera-trapped sites in the Western Ghats landscape and that a total of 6,757 leopard photos were obtained, including 1,681 adult individuals and 32 cubs. have been identified.

Additionally, the total leopard population in the landscape was estimated at 3,387 (SE: 3,245-3,529) in 2018, compared to 2,487 (SE: 1,846-3,128) in 2014.

It was also found that the landscapes connecting Parambikulam Tiger Reserve with Periyar Tiger Reserve and Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve showed a loss of leopard occupation in 2018 compared to 2014.

Report to serve as a tool in home maintenance

According to a senior forestry official, the report will serve as a tool to develop better protection strategies to prevent human-leopard conflict in the region.

“This report is produced by calculating the prey population with the camera captures, because the prey population influences the leopard population (the predator). As the abundance of food correlates with the population dynamics, the strong leopard density means that the current habitat is able to support the density. “

He also said that the density of leopards should not be confused with the number of leopards.

“Leopard density refers to the identified population in 100 square kilometers. It does not mean that we have a high leopard population,” he said, adding that the current habitat in the forest range of Srivilliputhur Sanctuary has sufficient potential to support the population and that habitat maintenance is crucial.

The official also stressed that leopard density will serve as an important parameter that must be taken into consideration to ensure that the habitat is properly protected and design management strategies that will enrich the habitat and ensure that there is no of human-animal conflicts. .

An environmentalist said that since leopards persist in the forests, there have been no major conflicts with the human population.

Estimates of leopard density parameters from 14 camera trapping sites in Tamil Nadu

name of the site Camera points Density (per 100 km²) (Standard error)
Annamalai Tiger Reserve 332 5.95 (0.83)
Coimbatore Wildlife Division 67 8.35 (3.14)
Eroded Fauna Division 366 7.39 (1.53)
Gudalur Wildlife Division 106 13.39 (2.98)
Kanniyakumari Wildlife Sanctuary 43 Information not available
Kalakkad Mundanthurai Tiger Reserve 316 10.18 (1.28)
Kodaikanal Wildlife Sanctuary 152 Information not available
Meghamalai Wildlife Sanctuary 109 4.06 (2.3)
Mudumalai Tiger Reserve 391 12.11 (1.18)
Mukurthi National Park 44 0.66 (0.41)
Nellai Wildlife Sanctuary 81 Information not available
Nilgiri Fire Department 273 12.57 (1.82)
Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve 707 7.05 (0.68)
Srivilliputhur Wildlife Sanctuary 136 20.43 (10.51)


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