Saturday, February 21, 2009

Over 1,000 leopards in Gujarat

Over 1,000 leopards in Gujarat
Times of India

Ahmedabad: Gujarat may be known for its Asiatic lions but data shows that there is also a large population of leopards. According to 2006 survey of the forest department, there are 1,070 leopards moving in the entire state and the figure shows a seven per cent rise since 2002.

Conservator of forests, HS Singh said that leopards are moving out but only in search of food and they savour dogs, goats and pigs. According to him, it is usually the male that ventures out. Before 1950 leopards were found in whole state, says Singh.

C Pandey, director Gujarat Ecology and Education Research (GEER) says that leopards are mainly found in Sabarkantha. Former Principal conservator of forest GA Patel believes that lack of water could also be the reason behind the animal leaving its own territory. He recalls an incident when a leopard got into a goods train wagon and travelled to Ahmedabad.

Of the total leopards, 35 per cent are found in protected sanctuaries while 14 per cent are found in reserve forest area. Gir, Mitiyala, Barda and Pania in Saurashtra, Vansda, Ratanmahal, Dangs, Shoolpaneshwar and Jambubuhoda in central and south Gujarat and Banaskantha and Sabarkantha in north Gujarat are leopard bases.

Officials say that the leopard can move up to 60 kilometres an hour approximately.

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