Search for leopard continues in Delhi’s Sainik Farms, fresh pug marks seen at Asola
Officials did not confirm whether the pug marks discovered on Sunday were of the same leopard seen in Sainik Farms
Forest and police officials on Sunday said they were yet to locate the leopard spotted multiple times in south Delhi’s Sainik Farms area since Friday night. However, fresh pug marks of a leopard were seen at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary on Sunday, suggesting that the animal had likely returned to the sanctuary, officials said.
However, officials did not confirm whether the pug marks discovered on Sunday were of the same leopard seen in Sainik Farms, officials added.
The animal’s rare sighting in the residential area was first reported on Saturday through three separate videos shot on Friday night. The state forest and wildlife department Delhi Police have deployed drones to spot the animal, which was last seen by them on Saturday afternoon. The search operation will go on for another 48 hours, officials said.
“Though there are chances that the animal has gone back to the southern Ridge, we will continue to keep teams deployed in the area. If it is not spotted again in the next 48 hours, we will call off the search,” said Mandeep Mittal, deputy conservator of forests (South).
Last year, a study jointly carried out by the forest department and the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) found there were at least eight leopards in the sanctuary. Another two cubs were captured on camera there earlier this year.
Locals in Sainik Farms had spotted the leopard first on Friday night, with the forest department and Delhi Police called on Saturday morning to inspect the area. There, the teams were able to spot the leopard twice, before it went into hiding again. Forest department teams then set up two bait cages to lure and trap the animal.
On Sunday morning, over 50 officials of the forest department and police scanned the area again through drones. Announcements were also being made through loudspeakers, requesting people to stay indoors. “Locals are being asked to exercise caution when heading out,” a second official said.
The southern Ridge, which includes the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, is an extension of the Aravallis and large parts of it extend into south Delhi neighbourhoods, including Devli, Sainik Farms and Neb Sarai.
Faiyaz Khudsar, scientist in-charge of DDA’s biodiversity parks programme, said if the sanctuary has so many leopards, then it is natural for one or two may wander out. “The area where the leopard was spotted is not too far from the sanctuary. In winters, leopards like to roam and expand their home range, so this is a natural process. It is also likely that after sensing danger in human settlements, it has gone back towards the sanctuary.”