Delhi Leopard caught in camera trap at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary

A leopard at Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary has been caught in a camera trap – the first concrete evidence of the big cat’s recent presence in the area, according to Forestry Department officials.

Amit Anand, deputy conservator of forests (southern division), said camera traps had been placed in different parts of the sanctuary as part of a wildlife census. The image, from August 30, was captured around 6 a.m., according to the time stamp.

As this is the first time that camera traps have been placed in the sanctuary, it is also the first time that a leopard has been captured in a camera trap image. “We have tried to improve the habitat in the area. The water conservation measures and the attempt to reduce trespassing could have helped protect the habitat of flora and fauna in the area, ”Anand said, adding that residents of the neighboring area had been alerted. of the presence of the leopard.

“The sanctuary has been a transitory habitat for leopards, but we have never had proof of their existence here. There was a sighting in early January of this year, as a result of which we decided to organize a wildlife census, ”Anand said.

The census started about two months ago and there are five to six people in the process. “We are looking at mammals, reptiles and birds,” he said.

The good part about the leopard sighting is that it is now seen in an area where it was not previously seen, said Sohail Madan of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS). “Instead of the leopard going to villages or crossing roads and highways, it is now in the sanctuary in areas where the department has worked on reforestation and made water points and check dams. Trespassing was common in areas where the leopard is now seen. It was stopped and the reduction in disruption really helped, ”he said.

This type of restoration appears to be helping the leopard’s habitat, he said, but only the three-year study conducted by the BNHS and the Forestry Department can confirm this. The wildlife census is part of this three-year study.

“There is more to learning than just counting numbers. We want to know where the leopard is going, what habitats it uses, what it eats, what the prey base is here and how dense is that prey base. We will study pug marks and droppings to understand its diet, in addition to the walk surveys. Camera traps are one way to collect less visible animal evidence, ”Madan said.

This is the first such mammalian study at Asola Bhatti, although birds and butterflies in the area have already been studied. “The leopard is not an unusual sighting in Asola Bhatti. We have had a few markers since January of this year. The habitat is rich in the monkeys that leopards feed on, providing a rich prey base, ”Madan said.

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Betty T. Simpson

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