Thursday, November 03, 2011

Leopard sighting rise in lion's lair

Leopard sighting rise in lion's lair
Times of India By Himanshu Kaushik

Leopards are giving a tough competition to lions in Gir sanctuary. With population of leopards increased to 380, tourists are getting the twin bonanza of sighting the spotted members of the big cat family along with the king of the jungle!

More than half of the visitors who embarked on the lion safari before Diwali were successful in sighting leopards. However, as the tourists inflow increased during the Diwali vacation, leopards moved out of the tourism zone and only 30% of the visitors could spot them. In the last two years, leopard spotting was barely 5%.

Not just tourists, but even the guides and jeep drivers who frequently visit the sanctuary have reported the increase in the number of leopard sightings. "We had initial reports of large leopard sightings and this was because their number in the sanctuary area was growing. The Gir and periphery have around 500 leopards," said Anshuman Sharma, the in-charge of deputy conservator of forest, Sasan.

Another senior forest official said that the besides increase in their population, the availability of prey in the tourism zone was more than any other part of the sanctuary.

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