Report

2020

Sanjay GubbiShravan SutharAmrita Madhukumar Menon
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Rosettes in Chikkaballapur: Estimating leopard densities and abundance through camera trapping

Leopards (Panthera pardus) are elusive and solitary species that are found over a wide geographic range. Many times they are the top predators in their ecosystems and are well adapted to human-dominated landscapes. The ability to adapt to different habitats and prey on a wide range of species makes leopards also a highly conflict-prone species. In India, they receive the highest level of protection as a Schedule 1 species under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972. Under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species, the leopard is listed under the ‘Vulnerable’ category (Stein et al. 2016). There are a few of studies estimating leopard population size in both forested and humandominated landscapes in India (Harihar et al. 2009; Athreya et al. 2013; Borah et al. 2014; Gubbi et al. 2017), however there is a lack of baseline population and distribution data for leopards especially outside the protected areas. Baseline information regarding leopard distribution and population size as well as their interactions with the ecosystem is essential to implement effective management and conservation strategies. Hence more information on the population and abundance estimates would help in evidence-based management of leopards and its habitats. The occurrences of leopards in some Protected Areas (PAs), reserved forests and other leopard habitats within Karnataka has received recent attention. Gubbi et al. (2017) estimated a mean abundance of ~ 300 (SD ± 15.2) leopards in a ~3,170 km2 area comprising of PAs and reserved forests in Karnataka. The prevailing issues in these landscapes include poaching of prey, vehicular collisions, loss of habitat, human-leopard conflict and other unconventional threats, all of which poses a serious threat to leopard populations (Gubbi et al. 2014; Gubbi et al. 2017; Gubbi et al. 2019a). In continuation to the previous studies (Gubbi et al. 2017, 2018, 2019b), this report provides the first estimates of abundance and density of leopards for Chikkaballapura Division.