Friday, December 21, 2007

Panther, cub make old Rajkot their home


Panther, cub make old Rajkot their home

Indian Express

Rajkot, December 20 Just a couple of days after Asiatic lions were spotted far away from the jungle at Mahuva in Bhavnagar district, a panther with a cub in tow, is believed to have made Rajkot its home, some 150 km away from the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary.

Forest department officials confirmed after four days of close observation that a panther and its cub have taken sanctuary in a small cave near Khadpith in Old Rajkot. The department, on Thursday, installed a cage with a bait to capture the animals.

The presence of a carnivore in the area came to light after a cow was found dead on last Saturday. Forest department officials initially reported either a panther or a hyena had fed on that livestock. But a close examination of the pugmarks revealed that it was a panther and not a hyena.

Officials have also traced the animal’s location through stool samples. “Stool samples were found outside this particular cave like structure near Khadpith, which is located very near to the Aji riverbed,” said Divisional Forest Officer G P Vadi. He said, “A team of forest department officials have been patrolling the area since the last four days. After it was confirmed on Thursday, that it’s a panther, probably with also a cub also, we have put up a cage to catch the big cat.”

Forest officials are, nevertheless, clueless, as to how a panther reached all the way to Rajkot from the Gir Wildlife Sanctuary. Panthers, like their bigger cousins, the Asiatic lions, have often been found wandering outside the forest area, but mostly on the coastal belt. As such, this is all the more surprising since Rajkot doesn’t fall even on the coastal belt.

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