Wednesday, December 31, 2014

Leopards in Trouble

The worst news for nature lovers is the death of the big cats. Critically poised on brink of extinction the big cats are entirely at the mercy of the poachers, greedy and the developers. Habitat destruction and systemic hunting have been the major factors behind the endangerment of this species.   

The leopards survive in wider habitats as compared to the tiger. They are more likely to be found near human habitations even those devoid of forests. The enormous ability to survive should auger a good future but this is not so leopards are being killed at rapid pace in India. They are the greater victim of man animal conflict than the elder cousin.
Leopard Dharmagiri

Recently two leopard were found in the vicinity of Barhi Forests near Bandhavgarh National Park. The dead bodies were found in a spate of few days. This does not augur well since the pattern is suggestive of organized poaching. Though the post mortem reports and viscera analysis drown in the length of the time this repeated tragedy is suggestive of poaching gangs operating in and around the verdant forests of Bandhavgarh National Park.  

I have been visiting the Barhi Forests as a naturalist at Muchmucha Lodge since some time. The wildlife is impressive by all means though the forest face denudation near the villages in this area. 
Leopard Dharmagiri

Most of the tragedies are taking place due to callous attitude of those in charge, while some may be involved in the nexus. There have been cases of electrocution of animals including the tiger in Central Indian Tiger Reserves. These have been happening since a number of years but no substantial solution is in the place. All this points to total disregard  for our wild denizens and their habitats. Conserving wilderness in protected areas is not enough there should be concerted efforts to protect it irrespective of the status of land. 

Wild Dog at Kanha

Last season I saw a lone dhole or wild dog at Kanha Ghat and then near Indri Road. In my subsequent visits this animal was not sighted my be nor reported by anyone. Wild Dog are secondary carnivores and an important functionary of our jungle ecosystems.    

Being pack hunters they are generally found in pack of 12 to 14 sometimes larger. Hence the sight of single animal was a cause of worry. I was told that there was a pair that had probably stayed put for mating and breeding. 
Dhole Image by Dharmagiri
But the pack is always together, so was there a tragedy. A deadly disease could wipe of large populations of wild animals. This could have happened to wild dogs of Kanha. Last I heard of them was of their being seen on the Banzar River bridge on the way to Courtyard House on the Baihar Road.    

This year I sighted six dholes in the Mukki Zone the sight was exhilarating but I was expecting greater numbers. We missed sightings of wild dogs recently near Shravan Tal at Kanha Zone. I have no idea as of the moment of the population of this wild canid, hope it is stable. Being diurnal predators they are known to migrate locally.