Last September, the first official survey of leopards in India revealed that the total population of spotted felines was estimated between 12,000 and 14,000. However, previously the numbers were thought to be between 10,000 and 45,000 nationwide. As urban spaces expand, we're constantly encroaching on forest areas in the name of development, diminishing the habitats of forest animals and further putting local residents who live on the outskirts of these villages in danger. Only last month, in a village in Karnataka, local residents brutally beat up a bear for entering their village—and several more incidents mirror a similar story. While we can all be terrified and equally incredulous that leopards and other big cats often enter urban civilisation quite suddenly, there's a glaring environmental problem causing such seemingly random and bizarre incidents that needs to be addressed if we want things to improve.
Read our story on why Mumbai's citizens need to learn to live with leopards here.