Gurgaon-based experts call for sustainable awareness programme to conserve wildlife

Experts said that with rapid urbanisation, humans are coming in close contact with the natural habitat of wild animals, forcing them to venture towards densely populated areas.

gurgaon Updated: Oct 05, 2017 22:11 IST
Ipsita Pati
Ipsita Pati
Hindustan Times
Maruti Suzuki,Wildlife,MoEFCC
CCTV grab of leopard spotted in the Maruti Suzuki plant in Manesar.(Parveen Kumar/HT Photo)

In the last two years, the sighting of leopards and subsequent man-animal conflicts in southern parts of Haryana have become common.

Experts said that with rapid urbanisation, humans are coming in close contact with the natural habitat of wild animals, forcing them to venture towards densely populated areas. The region needs a comprehensive programme to conserve wildlife, said experts, after a leopard was spotted in the CCTV footage of Maruti Suzuki plant in Manesar.

The leopard was still inside until late evening. The security staff at the factory was trying to trace the leopard’s movements by bursting crackers on the premises but were stopped by the wildlife officials, who said that it is not the way to deal with the wildlife.

“There is an increase in man-animal conflicts in the region because of lack of awareness in the region about animals. Today, we asked the Maruti staff not to burst crackers and not to provoke the animal,” Vinod Kumar, conservator of wildlife, South Haryana, said.

“Man-animal conflicts alway take place in developed areas at the foothills of the Aravallis. These areas were natural forests but human habitations have been forcefully designed,” Jitender Bhadana, environmentalist, said.

Manesar industrial area is set up in the Aravalli foothills.

Also, there has been a rise in the number of leopards, officials said. According to the Wildlife Institute of India (WII) survey in the last five years, the leopard count has increased four times. The last survey was conducted in 2012 in the Aravallis.

A WII survey in June showed an increase in leopard presence in the Aravalli areas of Gurgaon, Faridabad and neighbouring districts.

Officials said that while it is good news that the wildlife count is increasing, man-animal conflicts are also on the rise due to a lack of awareness about wildlife in the region.

On November 24, 2016, a two-and-half-year-old male leopard was beaten to death by villagers of Mandawar after it had strayed into the village in Sohna, 40 kilometres from Gurgaon.

In April 2014, four leopards were found dead within a week in and around a private golf resort in Gurgaon.

In 2011, a male leopard was beaten to death in Kheri Gujaran village by a mob in the presence of government officials. About half a dozen other leopards have also been killed in road accidents in Gurgaon over the last few years.

“Wild animals, including leopards, will try to avoid humans at all costs and conflict occurs when they are provoked. Our approach to deal with conflict must be centred on people, focus on avoiding confrontations, making human lives safer. There needs to be greater understanding of leopard ecology so that decisions are knowledge-based. We need an ongoing awareness programme in the region in which all stakeholders should be engaged with a view to minimize the damage to both humans and wildlife. We must retain and not divert the forests, green cover, and water sources if we are to protect wildlife,” said Prerna Bindra, a former member, standing committee, National Board for Wildlife.

Experts said that the region is a good prey area for the wildlife to flourish and a programme should be developed keeping that in mind. “The ministry of environment, forest and climate change (MoEFCC) issued guidelines in April 2011 that highlighted valuable ways to handle situations when leopards visit populated areas, in villages and towns,” said Chetan Agarwal, environment analyst, said.

First Published: Oct 05, 2017 22:11 IST