Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Awareness drive to check increase in human-leopard conflicts in south Gujarat

(Representative image)(Representative image)

| TNN |
SURAT: Nature Club Surat, a city-based organization working for environment and animal rescue, has kick-started a human-leopard conflict management programme in Surat district in association with forest department to spread awareness among villagers on the dos and don'ts for reducing man-animal conflicts.

A few villages have been selected under the programme where man-animal conflicts are on the rise. The programme will be extended to the interior villages in Bharuch and Dang district in the coming months.

The programme is being held under the guidance of Vidya Athreya, a well-known leopard expert. As per Athreya's recent research, leopards have adopted agricultural landscape due to easy availability of food, water and hiding place. Translocation of leopards is increasing conflict.

When a leopard is rescued from a certain village and released in forest, the vacant place is filled up by another leopard. The leopard which was released at a totally new place may create conflict situations. Leopards are scared of humans and they only attack them if left with no other option.

This year, more than 25 cases of human-leopard conflicts were registered from across south Gujarat, without any casualty though. In almost 75 per cent cases, the conflicts occurred when humans and leopards came face to face, especially in sugarcane fields.

"The leopard population is increasing in south Gujarat. In many villages, there is no conflict at all between human and leopards. It is only when the leopards are translocated that they attack humans sensing trouble," Nature Club Surat activist Kaushal Mody said.

Nature Club Surat has also started camera trapping of leopards in some villages near Kosamba and Kim. The high resolution infrared cameras have been fitted to monitor the trail of leopards.

Nature Club Surat's Snehal Patel said, "The programme is to make villagers aware about leopards and their behaviour. We are distributing pamphlets and showing them video footages of leopards to teach them about precautions to reduce conflicts."

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