CHENNAI: Wildlife activists and foresters in Tamil Nadu are excited with the State continuing to a be roaring destination for big cats, particularly leopards. Interestingly, Tamil Nadu has bagged the fourth position overtaking Uttarakhand, a state known for serene undisturbed forest cover and tiger reserves. As usual, Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka are in the top two positions, followed by Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu, pushing Chhatisgarh and Uttarakhand to fth position and sixth position. TN has an average population of 868 leopards, overtaking Uttarakhand and Chattishgarh with 838 and 852 leopards respectively.
“This is an interesting fact to be observed as TN has overtaken Uttarakhand which has double the number of tiger population when compared to us. As per 2018 national tiger conservation, Uttarakhand had 450 plus tigers, whereas TN accounted for 264 tigers. But when it comes to leopards, the population is brimming and there are still a large number leopards living outside our TN forest areas,” opined wildlife conservationist and a member of Sathyamangalam Tiger Conservation Foundation A Kumaraguru. When it comes to elephants, Kerala performs well than TN and ranks on par with Karnataka and in terms of leopard, TN results are encouraging with 828 as least count and the upper limit ranging up to 908 leopards, he said.
Kumaraguru also demanded long-term camera trap monitoring for the stray leopard in the wildlife conict areas of the State surrounding Anamalai and Valparai tea estate areas. Further, leopard attacks on kids in Anamalai Tiger Reserve is also a serious issue that should be scientically addressed, the biologist added.
“Uttarakhand and Chhattisgarh have contiguous forests when compared to heavily urbanised Tamil Nadu. Top four ocials from the state were involved in the compilation and eld report related to leopards and the role of wildlife experts is crucial,” said an informed forest official. Of the enumerated 18 states, TN has overtaken three states with more forest cover and this shows that the leopard population are thriving in TN. The State’s tiger-leopard ratio is 1:4, which is healthy and there is more room for the tiger and leopard population to increase if the forests are well protected, the official said.
The overall leopard population has increased by 60 per cent and Tamil Nadu’s contribution is signicant to all-India gures. TN with large tracks of tea estates adjoining forest areas has been an abode for leopards and their sightings are frequent in Valparai, Manomboly, Manthrimattam, Congressmattam, Anaimudi and Thimbam forest areas, opined KVRK Thirunaranan, founder, The Nature Trust