Monday, February 2, 2015

#Leopard sightings reported in Gr Noida, Gzb and Hapur

GHAZIABAD: The straying of a leopard into Hapur sparked panic on Saturday morning but wildlife experts and foresters believe more such wild encounters could be in store as leopard sightings are being reported from Ghaziabad, Hapur and Greater Noida.

Experts said the big cats are straying from the Hastinapur wildlife sanctuary.

Saturday's episode, where villagers hacked the leopard to death in a field, was the third leopard death in a month. Forest officials said that considerable efforts have been made to trap the big cats in Greater Noida and near the Hindon air base in Ghaziabad.

Greater Noida's NTPC range officer PK Srivastava said several leopard sightings had been reported in the region in December. "We laid traps in many places, but with no success. We could not catch any, partly because leopards are very sharp animals. The forest department has also laid traps in the forested area at the Hindon air force base in Ghaziabad," he said.

Ghaziabad's district forest officer Joga Singh said, "Cages have been sent to Hapur from Ghaziabad, in case any leopard is caught. There is also a team there with tranquilizer dart guns."

Experts said that the sightings are a sign that the big cats are being forced out of their habitats because of encroachments. Vijaypal Baghel, a Ghaziabad-based wildlife activist, said that concrete jungles taking over the greenery was responsible for the leopards straying. "All the leopards killed in Hapur and Ghaziabad were aged between one and two years. That is the when the cubs are abandoned by their mother and have to fend for themselves," he said.

Director of Wildlife Protection Society of India Belinda Wright said leopards have been present in Ghaziabad, Greater Noida and Hapur for several decades. They live in hiding very close to human settlements, she said, but have not been reported to attack humans. "Leopards are highly adaptable and live in populated areas.

They have even been known to breed in drains. In the three areas, they would be eating mainly the smaller neelgai, wild boars, hares and even pea fowls and other birds," said Wright.

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