Monday, June 27, 2011

Leopards don’t change their spots

Leopards don't change their spots
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

A four-year old leopard was caught from Ishwaria area in the Dedakadi range. It was among several leopards caught close to human habitats. When the attacks on livestock and big cats prowling close to human dwellings became frequent, foresters tagged this leopard with a micro chip before releasing it in Lipapani area. A month later the same leopard was rescued from a well in Kotdi area. After treatment it was released in Varvangada area in Sasan. Forty days later the beast was caught from Ankolwadi area from a field and was released in Gola area. Earlier this year, for the fourth time, the repeatoffender was again rescued from a field in Ankolwadi.

Not just leopards, forest rescue staff have noticed over 24% of wild animals repeatedly going back to where people stay inside or around the forest. Among these 'troublemakers', a large number of them are big cats that are caught too close to spots from where they had been rescued earlier.

State forest officials said in 2010-11, 208 animals were rescued by the Sasan rescue team. Of these, 113 were leopards, 63 lions and the rest crocodiles and pythons. Analysis of data by the rescue centre revealed that 76% animals were first timers. Of the remaining 24%, 16% were rescued twice while another five per cent animals were caught close to human habitats three times and at least three per cent were caught four times.

The analysis further revealed that some cats were caught more than once from the same area. This was after they were released in the wild, far from the place where they created trouble. Citing an example, a forest officer said that the four-yearold leopard was caught for the third time from Ankolwadi area and was released about 30 km in Gola area. But nearly after a month this animal was again found in the same area. Deputy conservator of forest Sandeep Kumar said, "The department puts a micro chip in each animal rescued along with the date, place and even the time of the rescue.

If the same animal is caught again the chip reader can tell the story." He added that data analysis showed that many animals return to their own territory from where they were earlier rescued. Kumar said that after a rescue operation when an animal was released in the wild, by instinct they would climb a hillock and look for light and move in that direction. "Animals return to their territory only because of food habits. An animal that has been staying in or around the village would have tasted cattle and got used to it, which is why it returned to these places."

Additional principal chief conservator of forest H S Singh said animals have strong intelligence and as soon as they reach the area that they are familiar with, they prefer to be there.

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