The tigers may be disappearing in Rajasthan but the number of panthers is slowly on the rise.
R.N. Mehrotra, chief wildlife warden of Rajasthan, said early estimates of the census figures indicated an increase in the panther population in the sprawling desert state.
According to the 2004 wildlife census, there were over 550 panthers in the state. Sawai Madhopur, which houses the Ranthambore National Park, has the maximum number at 83. At least 15 panthers have been counted in and around the wildlife areas of Jaipur.
Last month, when the latest census was in progress, four panthers were spotted in the hills of Galta shrine near here.
In March, two panther cubs were sighted in the Sariska reserve, which has been in news for the disappearance of tigers.
Meanwhile, the Dehradun-based Wildlife Institute of India is planning to conduct a five-year study on panthers in Sariska from June.
"This is the first time in the country that such a study is being undertaken in which use of habitat, travelling patterns and eating habits of panthers would be monitored and analysed," said L.N. Dave, the forest and environment minister.
"This would help in knowing the eating habits of panthers in Sariska," he added.