Maharashtra: Leopard Deaths in 2020 Is At Its Highest in 5 Years

Maharashtra: Leopard Deaths in 2020 Is At Its Highest in 5 Years

As per data submitted by the Maharashtra Forest Department, the state has seen the deaths of 159 leopards between January and November 2020. While this happens to be the highest in at least five years, 2020 has also seen the decade’s highest human fatalities from leopard attacks with the tally standing at 23.

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The data published by the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF), Wildlife points out that of the 159 deaths seen this year, 80 were deemed natural while 64 were due to accidents including road, train, hunting by other animals, or any other mishaps. Further, two leopards were reportedly electrocuted while 13 were poached by criminals.  

PCCF-Wildlife, Nitin Kakodkar clarified that the increase in the number of leopard deaths and human fatalities in 2020 is mostly due to the growing leopard population in the state’s forests.

“While there is no population estimation study so far, cases are being reported from across the state as the animals are spread all over (rural, urban, and agricultural fields, forests). While people have learnt to live with this animal in most areas, leopards, too, are adaptable to threats around them. These factors have allowed their numbers to rise,” Kakodkar said.

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He also acknowledged that the cases of poaching was higher this year and said that they were isolated cases across Maharashtra during the COVID-19 lockdown. Meanwhile, the State Forest Department is reportedly planning to accurately survey the existing leopard population over the next couple of years.

“We have planned to go in for a sampling-based approach for all regions. While leopard numbers seem to be most in western Maharashtra, we have identified hotspots where most leopard deaths or human kills have been reported. They include Nashik, Nagar, parts of Marathwada, especially Aurangabad, Ratnagiri, and the entire sugarcane belt of Pune, Kolhapur, Sangli, north Maharashtra and Marathwada,” Kakodkar added.

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