Saturday, May 21, 2011

'Leopards love to hide in sugarcane fields'.

Himanshu Kaushik, May 19, 2011, 04.15am IST
AHMEDABAD: Next time you happen to pass by a sugarcane field in Saurashtra or South Gujarat, watch out for the spotted big cats. Experts counting leopards in the 3-day census that ended on Wednesday found most leopards hiding in sugarcane fields.
Although the beast managed to dodge them, enumerators who were involved in the census exercise said they corroborated its presence with pug marks found in these fields.
One of the enumerators, refusing to be quoted, said "During the census, the farmers informed us, that their fields are inhabited by leopards and cubs. The farmers realized that when they heard the roar of the big cat."

This enumerator was posted in Una Taluka. He said farmers complained that one fine morning while one of the farmers was working in his field, he heard the roar which established the presence of leopard in their fields.
Senior officials said that sugarcane fields are important hideout places for the leopards. Since the sugarcane plants are very high, the big cats can hide easily. These fields are also the breeding grounds for these animals, which are shy by nature. He said the fields in Una, Talala, Kodinar in Saurashtra, and the fields in South Gujarat and Vadodara have a good population of leopards.
Officials said these are not their permanent homes, as these animals keep moving between the forest area and the fields.
Former principal conservator of forest (PCCF), GA Patel said that the sugar cane fields have become a favourite haunt for the leopard as their prey base in the protected area is on the decline. "As the prey base is decreasing, the leopards move out in search of easy prey."
Another former PCCF Sanat Chavan said that sugar cane fields need lots of water and hence there is a cool atmosphere in these fields which is mostly suited to the big cats.

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