There are several reasons for admiring leopards, they are stealthier, opportunists, and lighter in weight as compared to tigers and lions which make them more dangerous. We have seen many incidents of leopards infiltrating into the human settlements and as the human population is multiplying with breakneck speed, we are likely to see more human-wildlife conflicts for sure. However, in the last few years, the number of big cats has increased due to the join efforts or government, activists, and many independent organizations.
The wildlife areas are scattered across the country and can be found in many states, but there are a few where the population of leopards and other animals is noticeable. These states are Madhya Pradesh, Karnataka, Rajasthan, Assam, Maharashtra, Uttarakhand, Tamil Nadu, and Chhattisgarh. The awareness towards the conservation of wildlife has also increased in people and it is clearly seen in the growing footfall in the wildlife sanctuaries across the nation. To make the sightings of leopards easier for wildlife enthusiasts, we have come up with a list of the most popular sanctuaries where you can witness this species.
Here is the list of leopard sanctuaries in India for sighting Indian leopard its habitat.
Jawai Bandh Leopard Conservation Reserve
The USP of Jawai leopard camp is its unique environment in which you find the big cats. Usually, we see this kind of tree in the dense forest, but in this region, you get to see them perched on rocky hills. You get to see without the obstruction of thick foliage or trees, you get to see roaming in open where there is no camouflage. It is not just a better place to spot leopards, it also gives them more chances for survival. That’s because Jawai is a remote place where the urban sprawl does not reach, they have miles of area to themselves and flourishing wildlife in which there is no dearth of prey. There are some tribes that reside in the hamlets nearby and the leopards hunt their livestock sometimes too. But there hasn’t been a single instance of human attack here, the co-existence of leopards with humans can actually bewilder many. Due to these factors, the number of this species is increasing and it can be seen by the growing number of tourists coming here as well.
Sanjay Gandhi National Park
Located in the suburban area of Mumbai in Maharashtra, this wildlife reserve was established in 1996. The biggest highlight of this national park is its existence within the metropolis limit which makes it one of the most visited sanctuaries in the world. Along with rich flora and fauna, the park also features 2400-year-old Kanheri caves. Because of these attractions, SGNP manages to attract more than 2 million visitors annually. Unlike our first entrant, this place has a history of leopard attacks and the reason for it has been attributed to the sprawling human settlements that are coming closer to the national park. Other than this, poaching is another alarming issue for the administrators of the park, in the past few years, the killings of leopards and other animals have also increased for the illegal trade of their body parts. However, it remains one of the biggest sanctuaries in India for spotting leopards.
Jim Corbett National Park
Established in 1936 for the protection of the Bengal tiger, it is the oldest national park in India. In the last few years, this park has become a famous destination for ecotourism and attracts more than 70,000 visitors every season. Spread in the area of 520.8 km2, it is home to 488 species of plants, 110 species of trees, 50 species of mammals, 25 species of reptiles, and 580 species of birds. The total area engulfs grasslands, riverine belts, hills, marshy depressions, and a large lake. Although focused on and known for Bengal tigers, Jim Corbett also provides habitat to leopards. Therefore, it gets enlisted as one of the most popular destinations in India for spotting this species of the big cat.
Nagarhole National Park
Located in the Mysore district and Kodagu district in Karnataka, this national park is a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve. It came under the ambit of Project Tiger in the year 1999 and is currently under consideration to become a World Heritage Site by the selection committee of UNESCO. The park comprises of waterfalls, valleys, hills, and small streams along with rich flora and fauna. It is also called Kabini Wildlife Sanctuary and adjoins the Bandipur National Park. Besides Bengal tiger and Indian leopard, you can see four-horned antelope, sloth bear, Ussuri dhole, wild boar, mongoose, porcupine, chevrotain, pangolin, Indian giant flying squirrel, Indian giant squirrel, European otter, slender loris, bonnet macaque, gray langur, civet, jungle cat, hare, leopard cat, slender loris, Indian elephant along with 250 species of birds.
Bandipur National Park
Established in 1974 under the Project Tiger, it is another national park from Karnataka that happens to have the second-highest population of tiger in India. The park covers an area of 874 square kilometers (337 sq mi) and home to several endangered species of India. It also shares its boundaries with Mudumalai National Park, Wayanad Wildlife Sanctuary, and Nagarhole National Park. It is also a part of the Nilgiri Biosphere Reserve and used to be a hunting ground for the Maharaja of the Kingdom of Mysore. It is situated at a point where the Western Ghats merge with the Deccan Plateau. Other than tiger and leopard, you can spot jackals, dholes, gaurs, Indian elephants, muggers, Indian rock pythons, and four-horned antelopes. The diverse birddom includes kingfishers, ospreys, bee-eaters, changeable hawk-eagles, crested serpent eagles, brown fish owls, Indian rollers, hoopoes, flowerpeckers, Indian vultures, red-headed vultures, honey buzzards among various other species.
Bandhavgarh National Park
Located in the Umaria district of Madhya Pradesh, this national park spans an area of 716 km2. It officially became a national park in 1968 and came under the ambit of the Tiger Reserve in 1993. Known for its biodiversity, this park also has an impressive density of the tiger population. Besides the striped big cat, leopards and various species of deer also have a large breeding population. Like many other forest reserves of India, Bandhavgarh was also a hunting preserve for the Maharajas for a long time even after independence. Apart from tigers and leopards, it is home to gaur, chital, caracal, striped hyena, Indian wolf, barking deer, sambar, and various other species.
Jhalana Leopard Conservation Reserve
Nestled around the urban sprawl of Jaipur, this wildlife sanctuary becomes a great attraction for people visiting the pink city. The best part is, they don’t have to travel hundreds of miles to reach here. From any part of the city, you can easily park and take a safari into the wilderness that offers many things to see. Leopard is the main attraction for the tourists here and they get to see various other species such as nilgai, sambhar, chital, wild boar, etc.
Bera Wildlife Sanctuary
It is the adjoining area of Jawai and offers the same attractions, you can spot leopards, birds, crocodiles and many other animals here. The spotting of leopards here is again a unique experience as they are living in caves, not in dense forests. Since they openly roam about on the rocks, it gets very easy to spot them without any obstructions. You can also enjoy a stay in tents which most of the resort properties offer.