Each time the rain ends in Assam, wild animals come out of their dens and into the direct line of fire of their worst enemy — man. Every year, the State Forest Department rescues five or six elephants and leopards in and around Guwahati city, though no reliable data on leopard attacks on human beings or livestock can be found. The leopard-man conflict is mainly confined to the hilly areas. In the past 10 years, more than 50 of these big cats have either been captured or killed in the city.
During the 1960s and the 1970s, leopards and elephants were a common sight in the cities such as Kahilipara, Kharrguli, Santipur, Lal Ganesh, Fatasil, Khanapara, Chandrapur, Hengerabari, Sunsali, Kamakhya and Ramsa in the State. The demographic pattern of Guwahati has changed after the shifting of the capital from Shillong. Increasing human population and unplanned legal and illegal settlements have exerted great pressure on the hills in the city. The Forest Department is under pressure for removal of leopards. Their complaint is that these animals pose a threat to human life and livestock. In reality, the leopards frequent human habitations and prey on domestic animals because the forest cover and their prey base have shrunk.
Guwahati, the gateway to Northeast India, is probably the only city in the country with huge protected areas within its limits — 2,632 hectares. There is an urgent need to protect the forest cover that shelters the big cat.