The Yamuna Biodiversity Park celebrated the arrival of a new guest, a young male leopard, on Monday. Wildlife experts, however, said that the actual work, of making the big cat stay by protecting it from a human face-off, will be the real victory.
Dr Faiyaz A Khudsar, scientist in-charge at the Yamuna Biodiversity Park, said that the leopard is being monitored every day. He said the carnivore has been living in the park for about two weeks now, which is a sign that the environment of the park is conducive for its survival.
“We cannot stop the animal from moving away. However, what is being ensured is that he gets a proper prey base for survival. This is already present in the area. We have been monitoring its movements,” he said.
Khudsar said that at present the leopard has been moving around an area of 200sqm.
It was on Monday that the leopard was first spotted from a distance of around 10feet, and its presence was captured on camera, the first time ever in Delhi, according to scientists.
In the past, there have been claims of leopard sightings by people, which have been followed by panic killings and attacks on the animal. In 2003, a similar case was reported when a leopard, spotted at PVR Saket was shot down by the cops, who did not know what to do with it.
Dr Sanjay Gubbi, a wildlife biologist who works on large carnivores, said that constant monitoring is required to ascertain if the leopard has actually settled down or this is a seasonal movement of the animal.
However, the focus now should be to avoid a man-animal conflict.
“Though the presence of the carnivore is not a cause of worry, but if there are human habitations within the vicinity, it would be ideal to carry out outreach activities to make the residents aware of some precautions they need to take. For instance (but not limited to), it is better not to use the area for defecating especially after dark, or to let children move around alone at night,” Gubbi said.
He said that from the body and skull size, belly and neck fold it is clear it’s a fully grown adult animal of 3-4 years.
He added, “Even if not intentional, if there is any untoward incidence there can be a huge outcry especially due to the fact that it is next to the national capital. The risk to the animal starts if any human injury occurs, or people also panic at the sight of leopards. But, they are normally shy animals and they do not harm until they are threatened or feel cornered.”
A forest department official who did not wish to be named said that more than the humans living around the park, it is the animal who is in danger.
“When the presence of the animal is highlighted so much, it creates a panic and gives rise to rumours and also attracts poachers. This risks the life of the animal,” the official said.