The Indian Leopard, locally referred to as Baghera, is the only sub-species of Leopards in Rajasthan. In 2017, Rajasthan became the first state in the country to launch a project to conserve leopards. The leopards of Bera in Rajasthan have been living in harmony with humans for decades and is often presented as an example story of mutual love and respect between leopards and human beings.
Taxonomy of Leopard
Leopard (Panthera pardus) is one of the five extant species in the genus Panthera, a member of the Felidae family. Addtionally, Nine sub-species of the leopard have been recognized, and they are distributed across Africa and Asia. Out of them, Rajasthan has the prominent presence of The Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) sub-species.
Sub-Species of Leopards found in India:
- Snow Leopard – found in Himalayas
- Clouded Leopard – found in Himalayan foothills, China.
- Indian Leopard – found across Indian sub-continent.
Also read: Species of big cats found in India
Population of Leopards in Rajasthan
According to the wildlife census 2018 conducted by the Forest Department of Rajasthan, the number of leopards in Rajasthan has been estimated at 635 with 420 being residing inside protected areas & 215 being outside protected areas.
Leopard population in Protected Areas:
- Jawai Bandh Conservation Reserve – 30
- Kumbhalgarh Wildlife Sanctuary – 131
- Mount Abu – 48
- Sitamata Wildlife Sanctuary – 42
- Todgarh Raoli Wildlife Sanctuary – 47
- Panther Conservation Reserve: Sumerpur – 30
Decline in Population
As per a NEWS in HT, around 20 leopards have been killed between 2014 and 2016 in accidents or by humans when they strayed into human habitations or agricultural fields.
Conservation Efforts for Leopards in Rajasthan
The Indian Leopard is an endangered animal under schedule one of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. It is also listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN Red List because populations have declined following habitat loss and fragmentation, poaching for the illegal trade of skins and body parts, and persecution due to conflict situations.