Dehradun: Though leopards straying into the human habitation may be an issue of concern, a simultaneous look into their recent death rates reflects that endangered members of the big cat family are on its way to extinction.

The alarmed environmentalists have expressed concern that the spotted feline could become extinct in Uttarakhand in coming years if leopard deaths continue at the current rate.

Similarly, the death rate of the big cat in the Uttarakhand jungles is also a major concern for the environmentalists.

The Forest Department however terms man-animal conflict as one of major factor responsible for the increasing deaths of leopards and tigers.

 Additional Principal Chief Conservator of Forests, Srikant Chandola said, “The man-animal conflict is also considered a major factor leading to deaths of leopards. Tiger deaths are natural. The department is working towards this.”

What has alarmed the environmentalist is the swelling death rate.

While 76 leopard deaths were reported last year, 45 have already been reported in the first six months this year.  Besides, 29 leopard pelts were also recovered, which clearly states the wildlife poaching to be a major factor for the dwindling number of leopards.

Eleven tigers have already been reported dead this year, while the same stood at 7 last year.