Friday, May 20, 2011

Cats show their camera-shy side

Cats show their camera-shy side
Times of India By Yagnesh Mehta

The three-day leopard census has brought to light that the spotted cats seem just as camera shy as Gir lions.

It was in May 2010 when the forest department first introduced the concept of taking photographs during the lion census.

But in the leopard counting exercise, not many enumerators succeeded in doing this.

Forest officials said, "During the lion census, 90% of the enumerators were able to take pictures. But, in the case of leopards, only 40 per cent could do so."

He said they were not also sure of the quality of the photographs taken.

Narrating his experience while posted in Kherambha village in Junagadh district, a volunteer said, "We were on a watch tower constantly keeping an eye; we saw a leopard coming towards the water point. The team immediately got alert and pen, papers and cameras were out. But before we could see the animal closely, it disappeared."

He added that the team then went down and noted the pugmarks with the help of Plaster of Paris (POP). "During the preliminary census - on Monday and Tuesday - we were able to spot a family of three, including a cub. Watch towers were set especially near the water points," he said.

Dr Shiv Shanker, who was in Palanpur, said leopards were spotted thrice.

"We even tried taking photographs but are not sure of their quality," he said. He added that these leopards were spotted at different places.

"We took their pug marks using the POP." Shakti Pathak, an environmentalist in Vansda, said that they could not spot the leopard but could see its droppings.

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