Saturday, May 21, 2011

Gujarat leopard population soars in this decade.

Published: Thursday, May 19, 2011, 16:54 IST
By DNA Correspondent | Place: Ahmedabad | Agency: DNA
If the number of captures of the leopard is an indication, then the population of leopards has more than doubled in the last decade in Gujarat. Forest department concluded a three-day census of leopards in Gujarat on Wednesday. While awaiting the final tally, officials indeed estimate an increase in the total numbers, but refrained from providing any numbers.
However, giving a larger perspective, chief wildlife warden HS Singh said the number of leopards being captured by the department on complaints of locals have increased by more than double over the last decade. "A decade back, we used to capture nearly 25-30 leopards every year. In recent years we have caught up to 100 leopards, based on the complaints of residents, invasion in farms and attack on locals. Such incidents occur mostly in districts of Junagadh and Amreli," he said.
A keen observer of wildlife trends, Singh says an increase in breeding has indeed been noticed in village areas, which indicate the rising population. The number of man-animal conflict cases reported is also a warning, he adds, but refutes that lions are indirectly pushing the leopards out of the forest. "There is no overlap of the lions' prey base with the leopards', except the chital. Big animals like sambal and blue bull are not for the leopard's palate, while monkeys which are a staple food for leopards, do not interest the lion king," he adds. The sloth bear census also concluded on Wednesday and the results of both are awaited.

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