Leopard at Biodiversity Park living in small area, experts fear conflict

New Delhi, Nov 24 (IANS) Officials at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park here believe that an adult male leopard which has made the park its home, the first such feline to do so, is living in a small area of 300-400 square meters.

As per forest officials, the leopard was spotted on Thursday morning by villagers near Jagatpur village next to park. Fresh pug marks were discovered in the park. The officials are trying to locate the animal by tracking its trail.

“The leopard is here, and though we cannot be specific, it has confined itself in a small area of 300 to 400 sq meters only,” Faiyaz A. Khudsar, scientist in-charge of Yamuna Biodiversity Park, told IANS. The park spans over 457 acres and it’s the first time that a leopard has been spotted there.

Delhi forest department officials V.B. Dasan told IANS that the leopard is a healthy, adult male and about five years old.

On Monday, the park and forest officials took pictures of the leopard during combing after a park guard spotted the animal. The leopard was first spotted by a villager about two weeks back.

While another leopard from Aravali range was beaten to death in a village located about 22 km from Gurugram on Thursday, avoiding the man-animal conflict is what concerns the wildlife experts, who believe that the feline is eventually going to come out of that small area.

Over 337 leopards had died in India this year so far. The government figures estimated 6,566 to 9,181 leopards in tiger range states.

As per Khudsar, there is high prey density in the park and it could be a reason that the carnivore is finding a home here.

“There are plenty of Indian hare, wild pigs and piglets, bluebull (Neelgai) and dogs in the park,” Khusdar said.

Khusdar believes that the leopard must have reached here through the corridor along Yamuna from Kalesar National Park in Haryana.

“We are doing regular monitoring and combing operation from early morning till the night,” he said.

While its presence is being lauded by some ecologists who believe that a leopard confirms that the park is functioning, some experts are sceptic of this idea given the panic created by the presence of a single leopard there.

“The Yamuna Biodiversity Park is known for hosting many programmes and social gatherings. If it’s concept was really to protect the biodiversity then why such a panic because one leopard was spotted there,” says Geeta Seshamni, co-founder of Wildlife SOS.

She adds that since the park is surrounded by villages, the first thing needed is to sensitise the villagers and urge them to adopt an avoidance behaviour.

“Frankly this is a very small area for a leopard so it’s definitely going to move out. Humans are not the natural prey for leopards but they may get attacked if a leopard is cornered or its flight path is blocked,” she said, hoping that the leopard doesn’t meet the same fate as the one near Gurugram.