There has been a surprising 12% increase in the leopard count around the Jhalana forest area of Jaipur, according to the Waterhole Census-2019 which was conducted recently.
The census reveals that the number of leopards in the Jhalana forest covers has increased to 28 this year. While the count registered last year (2018) was 25. “It (the increase in leopard count) is the result of the department’s complete effort to provide a protected environment to the wildlife. The biotic pressure has been reduced by constructing the wall and effective monitoring,” said a senior forest official.
Though, he also said, the waterhole census or any other method which is used to assess wildlife population is not accurate, but it shows the current trend and also gives a rough estimate.
The annual waterhole census is conducted every year on the occasion of Buddha Purnima. This year, the forest department counted animals around 36 water bodies of Jhalana and Galta forest blocks for 24 hours, from 18th to 19th May.
According to the official figures released, the leopard count in the Jhalana forests is gradually increasing every year since 2014. The count for 2014 was 8, which increased to13 in 2015.
The leopard is an endangered animal as per the Schedule I of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. The census also included other wild animals such as jackals, hyenas, porcupines, and cheetals. This year, the number of jackals was recorded at 35, which is one more than the count recorded last year.
Likewise, the number of hyenas too has increased this year from 5 to 7, as per the records in 2018 and 2017. In 2015, there were 15 hyenas in the forests.
The number of porcupines has also increased considerably this year, from 16 in 2018 to 45 this year. The count of cheetal (spotted deer) too has increased to 16 this year which was14 in 2018 and 12 in 2017.
According to the Wildlife Census 2016, the forest areas in Jaipur, including Nahargarh, had 41 leopards which constitute just over 8 percent of the total leopard population found in Rajasthan, which was pegged at 508. Of this, Kumbhalgarh forest reserve is home to 95 leopards which is followed by Mount Abu (46), Sita Mata (40), Todgarh Raoli (35) and Panther Conservation Reserve of Sumerpur (28).