Mumbai: With an aim to study the density of leopard’s population in Tungareshwar Wildlife Sanctuary (TWLS), and to understand the ecological and sociological factors related to the big cat in Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) and TWLS, Niket Surve from Wildlife Conservation Society-India, had identified five leopards.
The report, which was released on and accepted by the forest department on Monday, pointed out that illegal activities prevailing in TWLS were affecting the biodiversity and the leopards. The report also claimed that the problems in Tungareshwar were worse as compared to the SGNP.
The researcher along with his team examined 85 sq. km. of TWLS and adjoining forests and deployed camera traps at 29 locations in a systematic manner along both sides of the trails where leopards’ signs were present. While leopard scat (faeces) was collected and analysed for food habits, steps were taken for identification of the animals and to estimate its prey base in the sanctuary. As a result of this, five individual leopards were photo captured from TWLS.
The density of leopards was found to be 3.36 ± 2.03 (SE) leopards per 100 sq.km. The cat’s scats examined for robust analysis proved that the domestic dogs alone contributed to 53.60 per cent of the leopards’ diet.
“Small cell occupancy surveys for wild prey estimation did not yield successful results because of very low densities of wild prey. We got evidence to show a presence of wild pigs, barking deer, black-naped hare, bonnet macaques and langurs in the sanctuary. These animals are present in the sanctuary but at very low numbers. We did not get evidence of chital or sambar deer during the surveys,” explained Mr Surve.
The report highlighted that the two protected areas — SGNP and TWLS adjoining each other, are under the same management, yet have many differences.
Chief conservator of forest of SGNP and TWLS Ahmed Anwar said, “We are going to take his report very serious and will make a strong action plan. We are already in process of increasing prey base for the leopard and will remove encroachment.”