Leopard sighted 23 km from Gurugram, wildlife officials on alert
A team of wildlife officials, that had returned Tuesday after camping for a week in the fields of villages Farukhnagar and Ferozepur Jhirka searching for a leopard suspected to be prowling the area, pitched camp some 100 kilometres away in Saidpur village in search of the big cat.
The team reached Saidpur after villagers called reporting that they have seen a leopard near Kundli-manesar-palwal (KMP) Expressway, some 23 kilometers from Gurugram. The villagers also shared pictures of fresh pug marks with the wildlife department team.
Additional principal chief conservator of forests Vinod Kumar confirmed that the pug marks were of a young leopard that was about 2-3 years old. However, he said that the leopard had moved from Saidpur to Paatli, a place four kilometers away towards Farrukhnagar.
A farmer, Hari Chand Pandit, who was working in his wheat field and claims to have seen the animal, said, “I saw it coming from the KMP; the road is visible from here. Later, when we checked the pug marks with the wildlife team, the trail was all along the expressway adjoining the fields,” he said.
“A six-year-old girl, who spotted the animal, told us she saw a ‘T for tiger’ as she could not differentiate between a leopard and a tiger. A man who was working in the mustard fields also spotted the big cat and hid,” village head Inderjeet Sharma said.
Residents of Saidpur village said they had spotted the leopard in their fields on Wednesday morning and alerted the wildlife department, which, in turn, alerted the forest department and the police to send teams.
Officials of the wildlife department said they had received a call on Wednesday around 10am and reached the village within an hour.
“We immediately sent a three-member team to the spot to confirm the information and take necessary action. The area is close to leopard’s natural habitat and there is a strong possibility that the big cats prowl the outskirts of the village and the fields,” Kumar said.
He adding that since the news of leopard sighting spread, villagers have become more cautious and are not letting their animals lose in the Aravallis for grazing.
The wildlife officials left Saidpur village after placing a cage in the fields for the villagers’ safety. Villagers, meanwhile, spent their day locked inside their homes.
Kumar said they would promptly plan the leopard’s rescue once its presence is confirmed.
Earlier on Saturday, two villages of Farukhnagar had handed over CCTV footage of leopard movements in the village.
An uptick in leopard sightings these past few months has spawned panic in the region.
While the state does not have any data on the number of leopards that inhabit the Aravallis, experts said the sightings could be attributed to the proximity of these villages to the prime leopard habitats along the Rajasthan-haryana border.
It must be noted that though there have been a few sightings, leopards have not ventured into villages in search of prey, and given that it’s winter the possibility of the animal coming close to human settlements for water was slim.
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