• The Indian subspecies, Panthera pardus fusca, is found in all forested habitats in the country, absent only in the arid deserts and above the timberline in the Himalayas .In the Himalayas they are sympatric with snow leopards upto 5,200 m. 
  •  However, their current distribution and numbers have significantly decreased across the range due to habitat loss, prey depletion, conflict and poaching over the last century.
  •  Recent meta-analyses of leopard status and distribution suggest 48–67% range loss for the species in Africa and 83–87% in Asia.
  • This is in consonance with what a recent genetic study in India has where leopards have experienced a possibly human induced 75-90% population decline in the last ~120-200 years .
  • All these have resulted in changing the species status from ‘Near Threatened’ to ‘Vulnerable’ by IUCN.
  •  It is also listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and in Schedule I of the Wildlife (Protection) Act 1972 in India providing it with the highest level of protection.
  • Despite decreasing numbers and range, their ubiquitous presence across human habitations leads to misconceptions regarding their current abundance.
  • In India, tiger is not only a conservation icon but also acts as an umbrella species for the majority of ecoregions in the Indian subcontinent. 
  • Project Tiger, was initiated in 1973 aimed to harness the functional role of tiger and its charisma to garner resources and public support for conserving representative ecosystems and biodiversity therein. 
  • Under the stewardship of Project Tiger, the initial number of nine tiger reserves (~18,278 km2) has now expanded to 50 tiger reserves (~72,749 km2) covering about 2.21% of India’s geographical area conserving many endangered flora and fauna.

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