Recent news has highlighted the pressing issue of managing Indian leopard populations and reducing conflicts between leopards and humans. Maharashtra and Gujarat governments have put forward proposals to sterilize Indian leopards, a critical step in conservation efforts.
Sterilize Indian Leopard (Panthera pardus fusca)
- Classified as “Endangered” under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Listed in Appendix I of CITES.
Managing Leopard Population
- Controlling the leopard population is crucial for preserving this endangered species.
- Reducing leopard-human conflicts is a primary motivation.
Pioneer States for This Action
- Maharashtra and Gujarat are leading the way in proposing leopard sterilization.
- Approval of these proposals could set a precedent for other states.
Initiation of Pilot Projects
- The sterilization process will begin with pilot projects.
- Specific leopards targeted for sterilization will include rescued or injured individuals.
Maharashtra and Gujarat Governments
- Maharashtra has an estimated leopard count of 1,690, ranking fourth in India.
- Gujarat has an estimated leopard count of 2,274 in 2023.
- Other states like Madhya Pradesh and Karnataka have significant leopard populations.
Leopard Conflict Management
- In Maharashtra, leopards have been found in 88% of forest ranges outside protected zones.
- Factors contributing to human-leopard conflicts include increased water availability due to irrigation infrastructure, changes in crops favoring dense vegetation, and an increase in prey populations (wild pigs). copyright©iasexpress.net
- Districts such as Satara, Solapur, Pune, Ahmednagar, and Nashik have witnessed an increase in leopard numbers.
- Human casualties from leopard conflicts in Maharashtra decreased from 97 deaths (2010-2018) to 58 deaths (2019-20).
- Animal casualties remained stable at 176 in 2020-21.
- Gujarat’s proposal includes sterilization near Gir National Park.
- The leopard population in Gujarat has witnessed a 63% increase from 2016 to 2023.
- An alternative to sterilization is the use of contraception, such as the Porcine Zona Pellucida (PZP) vaccine.
- PZP is derived from the ovary lining and blocks fertilization and pregnancy by inducing an immune response.
- This method is non-invasive, less traumatic, and reversible.
- Current research on PZP has been conducted on elephants, nilgai, wild boars, and rhesus macaques, but it comes with a high cost.