Monday, December 28, 2009

Three leopards dead in Junagadh

Three leopards dead in Junagadh
Times of India

In separate incidents, three leopards were found dead in Junagadh on Saturday. In an apparent case of infighting, a leopard was killed by a lion on outskirts of Dalkhaniya village in Gir west. The reason of the fight could not be ascertained. "It could be that the lion had made an attempt to scare another big cat away. Instead, this led to a fight between the two," officials surmised.

Range forest officer A D Atara, said that territorial fighting were generally seen in these big cats. "Pug marks and injuries on the leopard, suggest the leopard was killed by a lion. However, the lion did not feast upon the leopard," he said.

The incident, however, gave senior forest officials a chance to reiterate their claim that just like leopard and lion cannot stay together, a tiger and lion cannot survive together in Kuno Palpur in Madhya Pradesh, this being the state Government's prime argument against sending lions to Kuno Palpur, which houses tigers.

Former principal chief conservator of forests G A Patel said, "When two carnivorous animals come together, such fights are bound to take place. The Gir sanctuary has witnessed a good increase in population of leopards and lions. This increase had led to issues related to prey base and territorial rights."

Lion expert, Dr Ravi Chellan, said, "Tigers and lions have historically had overlapping distribution. It's true that they might not survive in exactly same location, but if you give them a large enough habitat of a few thousand sq. km they then find a way to survive." Such incidents happen quite frequently and infighting is usual as lions sees leopards as threats to their young ones, he explained.

Meanwhile, in two more unnatural deaths of the spotted beast, a leopard was run over by a train while crossing an unmanned railway crossing near Gadu village in Junagadh district on Saturday. On this killing Chellam said, "If ecological integrity of our protected areas (PAs) have to be maintained, we have to do everything it takes to prevent their fragmentation and deterioration of ecological quality."

In another case, a five-yearold female leopard was electrocuted in Varsinghar village of Una taluka in Junagadh district on Saturday morning. The animal got the electric shock after coming in contact with a transformer in an unused mine, sources said.

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