Effective conservation of rare carnivores requiresreliable estimates of population density for prioritizinginvestments and assessing the effectiveness of conservationinterventions. We used camera traps and capture–recaptureanalysis to provide thefirst reliable abundance and densityestimates for the common leopard Panthera pardusandclouded leopardNeofelis nebulosain Manas National Park,India. In 57days of camera trapping, with a total of4,275camera-trap days, we photo-captured 27 individuallyidentified common leopards (11 males,13 females andthree unidentified), and16 clouded leopards (four males,five females and seven unidentified). The abundanceestimates using the Mh jackknife and Pledger model Mhwere47.0and35.6, respectively, for the common leopard,and 21.0and 25.0, respectively, for the clouded leopard.Density estimates using maximum likelihood spatiallyexplicit capture–recapture were3.4±SE0.82and4.73±SE1.43per100 km2for the common and clouded leopards,respectively. Spatially-explicit capture–recapture providedmore realistic density estimates compared with thoseobtained from conventional methods. Our data indicatesthat camera trapping using a capture–recapture frameworkis an effective tool for assessing population sizes of crypticand elusive carnivores such as the common and cloudedleopards. The study has established a baseline for the longterm monitoring programme for large carnivores in ManasNational Park.