Report on Leopard Sights
Wildlife Institute of India (WII)
- It is an autonomous institution of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of India. It was established in 1982.
- WII carries out scientific and applied research on various issues of wildlife and biodiversity conservation. It is headquartered at Dehradun, Uttarakhand.
- They try to build capacity through training, education and research in the field of wildlife conservation.
- They help in conducting Tiger Census every four years along with the National Tiger Conservation Authority (NTCA).
- It is one of the big cats and prominent species of genus Panthera to which lion, tiger etc belongs.
- The leopard is listed under VULNERABLE category by IUCN.
- Like other leopard subspecies, the pattern of rosettes (marks on body) is unique to each individual and can be used to tell them apart. They are sexually dimorphic, with males larger and heavier than females.
- Indian Leopards are solitary predators who remain well-camouflaged at night but come down from trees to hunt during the day.
- It is estimated that 12,000-14,000 leopards occur in India, and the population is the most genetically diverse/outbred out of all the subspecies in Asia. However, the population has been severely affected by poaching for skins and body parts for the illegal wildlife trade; there were more than 3,000 leopards poached in India between 1994 and 2010.
- TRAFFIC is a leading non-governmental organisation working globally on trade in wild animals and plants in the context of both biodiversity conservation and sustainable development.
- Founded in 1979, it is a joint program of the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).
- TRAFFIC’s headquarters are located in Cambridge, United Kingdom.
Why in the news?
- The WII is planning to come up with a report about Leopards in India as a part of the Global Tiger Census.
- The last leopard census was conducted in 2014 which estimated its population around 12000 to 14000 individuals.
- But in recent days there have been rampant leopard poaching. Since we already have established camera traps for tiger census, the same infrastructure will be used to study the leopards and reports will be presented.
- The TRAFFIC has come up with a study on Leopard poaching and its illegal trade in India.
- The report titled ‘‘SPOTTED’ in Illegal Wildlife Trade: A Peek into Ongoing Poaching and Illegal Trade of Leopards in India’ presents 747 leopard deaths between 2015-2019 in India, 596 were linked to illegal wildlife trade and activities related to poaching.
- The highest numbers of poaching incidents were reported from the States of Uttarakhand and Maharashtra.
- In the illegal trade, the skin of the leopard is the most demanding one, and its bones are sold as tiger bones which are used for traditional medicine.
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