Leopard sighted near Narela Air Force base; night patrol squad set up

The alleged sighting of a leopard near Kendra Vidyalaya School at the Narela Air Force base here on Monday night has left residents scared for their safety.

The big cat was spotted on camera at the highly secure premises by patrol officers and the incident was immediately reported to the Forest Department and wildlife conservation non-government organisation Wildlife SOS.

A Wildlife SOS survey team, Wildlife Inspector V.B. Dasan and Forest Department officers carried out a field survey of the area where the animal was allegedly spotted. A night patrol squad has been set up but no confirmed sighting of the leopard has been recorded so far.

Forest resident

The big cat is believed to be a resident of the nearby forest, which is its natural habitat.

Meanwhile, keeping public safety in mind, the Air Force authorities have requested the Forest Department to translocate the leopard to avoid conflict situations in future.

However, the Forest Department and Wildlife SOS have stated that relocating the leopard is not very feasible as its current habitat, which is also its natural habitat, is densely forested.

Moreover, leopard experts including Vidya Athreya have confirmed that territorial cats like leopards must not be translocated as they are known to return to their original habitat even if its 300 km away. Capture of the leopard must be avoided at any cost and people must learn to coexist with the big cat, like the lakhs of people living around Borivali in Mumbai do on a daily basis.

Delhi Forest Department Wildlife Inspector Bharati Dasan said, “We will continue patrolling and plan the next step once we have a confirmed sighting.”

Kartick Satyanarayan of Wildlife SOS said: “Leopards are territorial animals and therefore translocation can potentially result in shifting the conflict to a different area. Releasing the animal in an unfamiliar location can be extremely stressful and could be fatal as there will be other resident leopards which will not take kindly to an intruder. Precautions must be taken to prepare the public for leopard-avoidance behaviour. Staying indoors after dark, and keeping children and pets indoors after dusk is recommended.”

Leopards are shy and elusive animals by nature. Their primary instinct is to avoid human contact. Unwarranted invasion of their natural habitat leads to habitat modification. Leopards are continuously struggling to find a foothold in vanishing forests.

This in turn forces them to seek prey closer to human settlements in the form of livestock and dogs.

The Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is a Schedule-I species, protected under the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972, and is listed as ‘vulnerable’ under the IUCN Red Data List.

Wasim Akram, special project manager, Wildlife SOS, said: “Our teams are checking the area. We are yet to find confirmed pug marks or tracks to confirm the presence of the leopard. Installing a radio collar on the leopard and tracking its movements will help us map its range, movements and expanse of its territory to plan mitigation efforts.”

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Printable version | Sep 23, 2021 4:20:46 PM |

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