Leopard counting begins in Assam; aims to lessen man-animal conflict

An exclusive leopard counting census is being undertaken from today, January 31, for the first time in Assam by the North Kamrup Forest Division. The survey will be done in the leopard density areas of Amingaon. In the first phase of the census, a total of 50 camera traps are being installed to count the numbers.

The purpose of the first leopard census is to study in detail and help in lessening the man-animal conflict, that has risen due to the growing involvement of human beings in the forest areas.

The Assam Forest Minister Parimal Suklabaidya also took to his social media account to announce that the 24-week camera trapping census will be the first of its kind in Assam and sustainable development and wildlife conservation remains a priority commitment to the State.

About the survey

The purpose of the leopard census is twofold. According to Sunnydeo Choudhary, IFS, DFO, North Kamrup Forest Division, the survey data will be used to build a base population of leopards and to study in detail man-animal conflict. The objective is to protect and manage the species.

In the first phase of the counting, a total of 50 camera traps are being installed in an area of 100 square km in the areas of the forest. These will eventually be increased at a later stage. The camera trapping project will be carried out for a period of 24 weeks in areas surrounding the forest and the non-forest areas of Amingaon, Changsari, Sila, etc. Furthermore, the data from each camera will be extracted at an interval of every seven days.

The leopard counting process would involve verifying the camera traps, studying maps, in-depth discussions, volunteer participation, field survey, and target location survey.

Leopards in Assam

Assam is known for its wildlife and rhino and elephant conservation efforts. However, the State is also home to leopards, whose number is on a decline due to an increase in man-animal conflict, infringement in forest range areas, shrinkage of the habitat of leopards, and more.

Although there has never been a proper census to count the number of leopards in Guwahati, these can be found in the hillocks surrounding the city. In colonial times, leopards could be found in areas near Kamakhya temple, Gotanagar, Jalukbari, Hengerabari Reserve Forest.

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