Government documents reveal that from 2012 till date, there have been 16 leopard attacks and 13 cases of leopard trapping by the forest department.
Mumbai: The Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) has started DNA mapping of leopards in the park and other forested areas of Mumbai. The objective is to create a wider database of leopards for identification. The move comes following demands by wildlife welfare wardens of the city for a more scientific approach towards identification of leopards i.e. DNA tests, as reported earlier by The Asian Age.
The SGNP project seeks to create a scientific database of individual leopards. Recently, a female leopard rescued from Andheri underwent the DNA fingerprinting. Dr Jitendra Ramgaonkar, deputy conservator of forests, Thane area, said, “If the leopard is moving inside or near the national park and enter into a man-animal conflict with people living in the vicinity, it becomes difficult to identify them. In case of captured leopards, their blood samples will be taken and sent for DNA profiling.”
Even in case of leopards that cannot be captured, forest officials have come up with a plan to take samples from their droppings in the park for DNA testing. As of now, DNA samples taken from the trapped female leopard have been sent to the Centre for Cellular and Molecular Biology, Hyderabad. The database will be generated over a period of time. Government documents reveal that from 2012 till date, there have been 16 leopard attacks and 13 cases of leopard trapping by the forest department.
Sunish Subramanian, wildlife welfare warden, Mumbai, said, “It will also help determine if the same leopard has been involved in multiple conflicts. As of now, the leopard’s identity is established only on the basis of camera images. Reports of such DNA analysis should be obtained as early as possible and then, if involvement of a particular leopard is found in multiple leopard attacks, only then it should labeled a ‘man-eater’.”