Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Unique study on Indian leopard behavior begins soon

Sanghita Singh
Monday, April 09, 2007 22:51 IST

NEW DELHI: Rajasthan and J&K can set precedence in resolving the leopard-human conflict that has gone from bad to worse claiming many innocent lives across the country.

Sariska, which was in news for its missing tigers, will now be used by the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) as a research point to conduct its first-ever study in India on leopards. Simultaneously, a study has also been commissioned by the J&K government to deal with the human-leopard conflict in the state. WII is on a five-year mission to understand the behavior pattern of the leopards that have been coming at loggerheads with human beings in sub-urban settlements.

The study, which, will be concluded in May 2012 aims at studying leopards by radio collaring the animals so as to assess their behavior and even conduct a census of the prey. Radio collars would be fitted to 12 leopards - four male, four female and four cubs in Sariska.

“This is the first time that such a study is being undertaken in the country in which the use of habitat, the traveling pattern and eating habits of panthers would be monitored and analysed,” said LN Dave, state forest and environment minister.

On its part, the Wildlife Trust of India has just concluded its survey in J&K and is in the process of reviewing all conflict details and the profile of the villages, which have been suffering on account of the carnivore attacks. Explains Prof P S Easa, of WTI “By the end of May, we will be ready with an action plan which could be used as a model for tackling the issue in the rest of the country as well.”

Some of the questions that have been raised so far are those of rapid action teams’ availability in the area and the reasons for conflict.

“The main reason is that humans have gradually encroached upon the natural habitat of the wild cats. Militant activity in jungles is another reason for the displacement,” she said.


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