India’s leopard population has increased to over 12,000 in 2018 from around 8,000 in 2014, Union Environment Minister Prakash Javadekar said on Monday, while releasing a government report.

“Happy to announce that, India now has 12,852 leopards,” Javadekar tweeted. “More than 60% increase in population has been recorded over the previous estimate which was conducted in 2014.”

The minister was releasing the ‘Status of Leopards in India 2018” report, saying that India was protecting its ecology and biodiversity well. He said the leopard population was estimated using camera trapping method.

According to the report, India’s leopard population in 2018 was estimated at 12,852, with the most number of them being found in Madhya Pradesh at 3,421, followed by Karnataka at 1,783 and Maharashtra at 1,690, PTI reported.

As for region-wise distribution, the highest number of 8,071 leopards were found in central India and the Eastern Ghats, which include the states of Madhya Pradesh, Maharashtra, Rajasthan, Odisha, Chhattisgarh, Jharkhand, Telangana and Andhra Pradesh. In the Western Ghats region, comprising of Karnataka, Tamil Nadi, Goa and Kerala, there are 3,387 leopards. Meanwhile there are 1,253 leopards in Shivalik and Gangetic Plains which includes Uttar Pradesh, Uttarakhand and Bihar. In the North East hills, 141 leopards were found.

“Increase in the population of tigers, Asiatic lions and now leopards, shows how India is protecting its environment, ecology and biodiversity,” Javadekar said.

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