As many as seven leopards, including an eight-month-old cub, have been reported dead in Gurgaon over the past two years. While two cases pertain to road accidents wherein the big cats were hit by speeding vehicles, the remaining four carcasses found near a golf course in Manesar are suspected to be cases of poisoning and the matter is pending in the court.
The Aravalli range, the natural habitat of these big cats, is the oldest fold mountains in India.
The northern end of the range continues as isolated hills and rocky ridges into Haryana, ending in Delhi. The undulating hills of Aravalli not only provide unbelievable natural ambience, but also act as lungs for the whole National Capital Region. Beside support to human population, the range also supports the important and already exhausted faunal diversity (as established by wildlife census report 2012 which found seven carnivores species on Aravalli Range).
Leopard is at the top of food chain in Aravalli Range on Haryana side. According to wildlife observers, leopards are very shy and are the most adaptable of the large cats and typify wildlife that lives outside forests.
A ban on mining by the Supreme Court a few years ago in Aravalli area led to an improved habitat which is a primary factor for leopard survival. The importance of this area has also increased by the fact that it is surrounded by the Asolla Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary on Delhi side and a continuous Aravalli chain in Rajasthan which extends upto Sariska National Park.
The Aravalli area, besides a good leopard habitat and rich in floral and faunal diversity is also exploited by human greed, mainly because of its proximity to Delhi. “As many as four roads, including two highways, pass through the Aravalli range bifurcating the natural habitat of the leopard. And two more roads -- Kundli-Manesar-Palwal Expressway and the Dedicated Freight Corridor -- passing through the mountain range are in the pipeline.
Neither the departments concerned have provided safe passages to the animals to cross these roads nor any signages have been put for the motorists to drive slow in this area. Ideally, barricades should be put on both sides of roads at those points where the possibility of these wild animals crossing the roads is more,” said a source in the forest department. Over the years, several farmhouses have come up in the range and large chunks of land have been bought by the builders who are now waiting for the change in the definition of the forest to commercially exploit the area.
Vivek Kamboj of Haryali Welfare Society, a non-government organisation, said: “There have been several such instances in the recent past that clearly demonstrates that we are encroaching on forest lands and forcing these animals to move out and get killed. The area from Asola to Sariska is a wildlife corridor; we demand that this should be declared as a sanctuary.”
The undulating hills of Aravalli not only provide a natural ambience, but also act as lungs for