Daily Mirror - Print Edition

Leopard population; WNPS responds...

23 Mar 2023 - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}      

With reference to yesterday’s Daily Mirror article titled Rampant increase in wet zone hill country leopard population’, the Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS)has sent the following statement.  



 The Daily Mirror newspaper of March 22, 2023, in an article on wet zone leopards, started with the following claim based on a statement made by an environmental organization representing the Knuckles.   “The population of wet zone hill country Leopards (Panthera pardus kotiya) has been increasing in large proportions…”

The Wildlife & Nature Protection Society (WNPS) strongly challenges this claim for the following reasons:  

1. No comprehensive, science-based census has been carried out recently to determine the populations of leopards either in the wet zone or dry zone.    2. A single subspecies of Leopard inhabit both the wet and dry zone forested areas. Leopards inhabiting the hill country are found in the central hills, and adjoining mountain ranges, coming down to the submontane and foothill forest areas. There is no scientific evidence to support the given number of 800 leopards in these areas.   

3. Whilst there is no evidence to support the increasing trend in population, it is evident that Leopards are becoming more visible in these areas, and appearing in human habitation, due to the rapid clearing of their natural habitat, human encroachment into forests, possible reduction of the prey animals mainly resulting from unplanned and unauthorized development and agriculture.  

4. There are an even larger number of leopard deaths than those that are officially reported as discovered by recent studies.  

In an attempt to address the limited data availability for conservation decision-making, the WNPS together with LOLC commenced a 5 year multiregional Leopard Research and Conservation Project covering selected human-dominated areas across the country. It will take this time, at least, to fully gain the understanding necessary to tackle identified information requirements effectively. WNPS collaborates with other researchers in the country to achieve a common objective of the conservation of this valuable keystone predator.