Residents panic as leopard is spotted in Bhondsi; search yields nothing
The villagers of Bhondsi demanded that the wildlife officials start night patrolling in the area. “We fear for our lives and have stopped going out after dark. Once we are sure that the leopard has returned to its habitat, life will get back to normal around here,” said Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Bhondsi village
A leopard was spotted by a villager near the boundary wall of Border Security Force (BSF) camp in Bhondsi, reportedly for the third consecutive night on Sunday, triggering panic among residents and prompting them to demand night patrolling by wildlife teams.
However, a search by the wildlife team on Monday found nothing and after spending six hours there, the team returned after finding some pug marks but only near the leopard habitat.
A villager spotted the leopard near the BSF camp on Saturday and again on Sunday while returning home from work and informed other villagers and wildlife officials.
“I saw the leopard near the boundary wall around 1am. Initially, I thought that it was some wild animal but when it moved, I realised that it was a leopard. We are afraid of stepping out after dark and villagers fear for their cattle,” said Ashok Kumar, an executive working with a transport company.
The villagers of Bhondsi demanded that the wildlife officials start night patrolling in the area. “We fear for our lives and have stopped going out after dark. Once we are sure that the leopard has returned to its habitat, life will get back to normal around here,” said Bhupinder Singh, a resident of Bhondsi village.
Wildlife officials said leopard sightings have increased in villages abutting the Aravallis but their teams till date have not been able to spot a big cat in any of the areas from where the sightings were reported. The department said they received at least five calls from Bhondsi village over leopard sightings in the past one week.
MS Malik, additional principle chief conservator of forests (wildlife), said the search was suspended on Monday as teams were sent, cages were placed in strategic locations and cameras were monitored but found nothing.
“There are chances that the leopard returned to its habitat. There have been many instances of leopard being sighted but then it returns to its habitat. The dense Aravalli forests has many animals such as hyena, leopards, jungle cats and others,” he said.
Malik said the teams would return on short notice if there is another sighting.
Rajesh Chahal, a wildlife inspector posted in Gurugram, said they formed a team on Sunday, comprising a veterinary doctor, to check on animals in the Aravallis.
“The spot where the leopard was sighted was close to the Aravallis and it is their habitat but villagers panicked and raised the alarm. We are patrolling the area to ensure that the big cat has not returned,” he said.
Officials said they have identified areas with a high population of leopards and will start patrolling such areas, including Manesar, Sohna and Nuh . According to a 2017 Census, there are 31 leopards in the Aravallis and it is estimated that their numbers have increased to about 60 at present.