In india, leopard conservation is often clubbed with tigers because man leopards are in tiger reserves. But, no reliable count is available. Conservationists believe this has affected their systematic protection. According to data released by the ministry of environment and forests in 2008, India has more than 11,000 leopards. But numbers are falling on account of poaching and conflict with humans. “Leopards are a soft target for poachers,” says Brig (retd) Ranjit Talwar, formerly with World Wildlife Fund India. “It is easier to shoot a leopard since It is a smaller animal compared to the tiger.”Leopards’ natural traits-a high level of adaptability and the ability to live in wide ranging habitats- also put them in danger because the often venture into human settlements in search of prey. In the most recent episode (on March 23) irate people in Dhamdhar village in the Corbett tiger reserve burnt a leopard alive. The unfortunate animal had been captured by forest officials. The Delhi NGO, Wildlife Protection Society of India, estimates 148 leopard deaths last year. This year’s toll is already 66 and we are just three months into 2011. How many more will it take before the spotted cat is better protected?