Displaced leopards behind rising conflict with humans: Study
The leopard like many others in the region apparently gets displaced from his habitat by a stronger male in a territorial fight to win over a leopardess. A displaced leopard travels hundreds of kilometers looking for a new territory and may enter a village looking for prey.jaipur Updated: Apr 13, 2016 13:00 IST
Carrying sticks and rods, villagers in Maal ka Kheda chased a leopard that had travelled long distance from a forest looking for a prey and trapped him in a bathroom.
The helpless animal on April 6 was finally rescued by the forest department, which has been battling rising human-leopard conflict in Rajasthan. Maal ka Kheda incident was third leopard intrusion this year.
But, this leopard rescue showed what happens in the wild in winter months leading to the rising leopard-human conflict. The leopard like many others in the region apparently gets displaced from his habitat by a stronger male in a territorial fight to win over a leopardess.
“Mostly the male is responsible for conflict because winter season is mating time for leopards and so males fight for females and its territory. A displaced leopard moves out from that forest area in the search of new territory,” explained Dr Hem Singh Gehlot, lead author of a study on human-leopard conflict in western Rajasthan.
A displaced leopard travels hundreds of kilometers looking for a new territory and may enter a village looking for prey. It is also the reason for a large number of human-leopard conflict incidents reported during winter months from Rajasthan to Uttarakhand to Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh.
The study on human-animal conflicts in western Rajasthan over a period of five years showed that 12 of the 15 leopards involved were male.
Apart from territorial fight, Gehlot’s team member Shrawan Singh Rathore said anthropogenic pressure on leopard’s habitat, loss of habitat and food and obstruction of escape route were some other reasons for leopard entering villages.
The report attributed the rising human-leopard conflict to increasing population of the spotted cat in Kumbhalgarh wildlife sanctuary of western Rajasthan. The sanctuary has 88 leopards of the total 527 as per the state’s Wildlife Census, 2015.
The report says in the last five years, 15 cases of human-leopard conflicts reported in Jodhpur, Pali, Barmer, Bikaner, Ajmer, Sirohi and Jalore districts. Of this, 10 cases were from Jodhpur and Pali districts.
Eight people have been killed in the region by leopards in the last four years and 10 more left injured, says a new report of two wildlife researchers. This rising conflict has left as many as 21 leopards dead in Jodhpur and Udaipur forest divisions.
Causes of leopard-human conflicts
Shrinking of leopards’ habitat in the state
Increase in human and livestock populations in their habitat
Increasing feral dogs in adjoining villages
Anthropogenic pressure in leopards’ habitat
Indiscriminate poaching and wildlife trade
Rising population of leopards outside protected areas in forests.