New Delhi: Around 19 leopards have died till February this year due to various reasons including poaching and electrocution, Rajya Sabha was informed on Monday.

The Minister of State for Environment Mahesh Sharma in a written reply to a question said that the deaths of leopards were due to various factors such as poaching, electrocution, accident, infighting and natural death.

"As per the information provided by the state enforcement agencies, 19 leopards have died up to February in the current year," Sharma said.

He was asked whether more than 93 leopards died in the first two months in 2018. 

He said the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 provides for punishment for violation of its provisions.

The Act also provides for forfeiture of any equipment, vehicle or weapon that is used for committing wildlife offences, he said.

He said law enforcement authorities in the states maintain strict vigil against poaching of leopards.

"Wildlife Crime Control Bureau has been set up to gather intelligence about poaching and unlawful trade in wild animals and animal articles, including leopards, and to achieve inter-state and trans-boundary coordination in the enforcement of wildlife laws," he said.

He said that the state and union territories have been asked to strengthen field formations and intensify patrolling in and around protected areas.