Why reports on an increase in India’s leopard population aren’t all they seem

Earlier this year it was announced that India’s leopard populations had seen an increase in 60% in just 4 years.

Elephant Family conservation partner Sanjay Gubbi has provided a commentary on why this might not be the case after all.

Looking at the way the data was collected, Gubbi suggests that announcing the increase is misleading. The area across which the data was collected was increased between 2014 to 2018, with more camera traps being included in the sample. It is therefore understandable that a higher number of leopards were counted, but of course this does not point to a straightforward conclusion of an increased population size.

We often talk about the dangers of “fake news”, and this is another example. In reporting an “increase in leopard numbers” the media are incorrectly diminishing the need for concern of their conservation. It is vital that accurate figures are reported upon so that conservationists and relevant bodies of authorities continue to improve efforts to protect leopards.

One such effort involves creating protected areas of land which prevent development on vital landscapes, thereby conserving habitats and leopards. Elephant Family supports Sanjay Gubbi who has been hugely successful in efforts to expand these protected areas. To hear his explanation of the misleading reporting in the press helps to paint a picture of why it is so important not to believe everything published and to question the source of the information.

Gubbi suggests that for reporting to be more accurate, a benchmark needs to be established. Newly collected data can then be compared against the benchmark in order to provide a clearer view on population trends.

Read the full article here.

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