Rajasthan has become the first state in the country to launch a project to conserve leopards called the ‘Project Leopard’.
- Chief minister Vasundhara Raje announced Project Leopard in her budget speech for 2017-18 and allotted ₹7 crore for it.
- The conservation efforts will include improving its prey base, reducing man-animal conflicts and controlling poaching.
Need for Project Leopard
- Leopard is an endangered animal under schedule one of the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972.
- Its population in Rajasthan has declined over the years.
- According to 2015 wildlife census, there are 434 leopards in the state. Around 20 leopards have been killed between 2014 and 2016 in accidents or by humans when they strayed into human habitations or agricultural fields.
About the project
- According to the proposal accessed by the Hindustan Times, Project Leopard will run in eight sanctuaries – Jaisamand Sanctuary in Udaipur, Bassi Sanctuary in Chittorgarh, Shergarh Sanctuary in Baran, Kumbhalgarh Sanctuary-Raoli Todgarh Sanctuary (stretched from Ajmer to Udaipur), Mount Abu Sanctuary-Sundamata Conservation Reserve (Sirohi and Jalore), Jhalana Aamagarh Conservation Reserve in Jaipur, Jawai Conservation Reserve in Pali and Khetri Bansyal Conservation Reserve in Jhunjhunu.
- The project work plan will be to mitigate man-leopard conflict, conserve leopard population by minimizing the threats the predator’s faces and create goodwill between local communities and leopards.
- In conserving leopards, the project will also boost conservation of bears, lesser cats, other smaller mammals and prey species, and support leopard conservation through capacity building, research and monitoring.
Reasons for man-animal conflict
- Grazing by livestock, extraction of fodder, timber and non-timber forest products and illegal occupation puts pressure on protected areas. These lead to man-animal conflicts inside forests.
- Several animals tend to move into habitations and agriculture fields due to increase in the wildlife population, non-availability of food and water inside forests and protected areas. This is leading to man-animal conflict.
- The steering committee of the project will be chaired by forest minister; principal chief conservator of the forest will be the vice-chairman, chief wildlife warden, and member secretary.
- The directors of eight leopard sanctuaries, chief conservator of forest of those areas and wildlife experts will be members of the committee.
- The committee will report to the state board of wildlife.
Some other wildlife conservation projects
- Project Elephant (1992)
- Project Tiger (1973)
- Project Hangul
- Indian Crocodile Conservation Project (1975)
- The Himalayan Musk Deer Ecology & Conservation Project
- Project Lion
- The Snow Leopard Project (2009)
- Project Cheetah
- Project Great Indian Bustard (2013)
World Wildlife Day was celebrated on March 3, 2017 under the theme “Listen to the Young Voices”.
Sources: Hindustan Times, Wikipedia