STUDY: Leopards are the New Backyard Wildlife


Hugh Paxton’s Blog hates to say I told you so, but I told you so! Leopards can live close and you don’t see them. One lived in the roof of Nairobi’s football stadium. For years. I wrote about this ten years ago!

I must say that nobody took me seriously or read it.

Fair enough actually. It wasn’t as if I’d clambered up the roof struts to photo record the beast. It was bar talk. Here’s something with a little more scientific background.

Photos: LIVING WITH LEOPARDS – Camera traps set up at night in a densely populated region of India virtually devoid of wilderness revealed leopards, striped hyenas, jackals – and lots of people.

Photo Credit: Project Waghoba

Copies of the study available for download:


CONTACT: STEPHEN SAUTNER: (1-718-220-3682; ssautner)

JOHN DELANEY: (1-718-220-3275; jdelaney)

Move Over Squirrels: Leopards are the New Backyard Wildlife

New WCS-led Study documents rise of big cats in urbanized landscape in India

Camera trap photos show leopards, hyenas – and lots of people

NEW YORK (March 28, 2013) — A new study led by WCS-India scientist Vidya Athreaya finds that certain landscapes of western India completely devoid of wilderness and with high human populations are crawling with a different kind of backyard wildlife: leopards.

The study found as many as five adult large carnivores, including leopards and striped hyenas, per 100 square kilometers (38 square miles), a density never before reported in a human-dominated landscape.

The study, called “Big Cats in Our Backyards,” appeared in the March 6 edition of the journal PLoS One. Authors include: Vidya Athreya and Ullas Karanth of the Wildlife Conservation Society and Centre for Wildlife Studies in Bangalore; Morten Odden of Hedmark University College; John D. C. Linnell of the Norwegian Institute for Nature Research; and Jagdish Krishnaswamy of Asoka Trust for Research of Ecology in the Environment.

Using camera traps, the authors founds that leopards often ranged close to houses at night though remained largely undetected by the public. Despite this close proximity between leopards and people, there are few instances of attacks in this region. The authors also photographed rusty spotted cat, small Indian civet, Indian fox, jungle cat, jackal, mongoose – and a variety of people from the local communities. The research took place in western Maharashtra, India.

“Human attacks by leopards were rare despite a potentially volatile situation considering that the leopard has been involved in serious conflict, including human deaths in adjoining areas,” said big cat expert Ullas Karanth of WCS. “The results of our work push the frontiers of our understanding of the adaptability of both humans and wildlife to each other’s presence.”

The authors say that the findings show that conservationists must look outside of protected areas for a more holistic approach to safeguarding wildlife in a variety of landscapes.

The Wildlife Conservation Society saves wildlife and wild places worldwide. We do so through science, global conservation, education and the management of the world’s largest system of urban wildlife parks, led by the flagship Bronx Zoo. Together these activities change attitudes towards nature and help people imagine wildlife and humans living in harmony. WCS is committed to this mission because it is essential to the integrity of life on Earth. Visit


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One Response to “STUDY: Leopards are the New Backyard Wildlife”

  1. Us in Bangkok Says:

    I think it looks convincing! Certainly not one of my cats.

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