Leopard on prowl: Alert sounded in Chengalpet

A fully grown male leopard has now made Chengalpet its territory.

CHENNAI: Even as realtors and urban developers have been promoting south of Chennai, particularly the Chengalpet –Maraimalai Nagar belt, as a happening place for IT and manufacturing units, a fully grown male leopard has now made Chengalpet its territory. “The beast is back after 11 months and the animal has been marking its territory since 2014”, confirmed foresters who on Wednesday sounded an alert for four villages near Chengalpet reserved forest (RF).

“The leopard is on the prowl and has returned to Anjur forest and villagers have been asked to remain indoors during evening hours. As there are earlier reports of livestock and cattle lifting by the predator, the villagers are now instructed to keep the house verandah (entrance) and the cattle shed illuminated”, said Chingleput forest ranger A. Gopu. “We know this animal and the same has been camera trapped in 2015. There are fresh pug marks in the RF and four camera traps also in position to check its movements”, he noted adding that so far the 13 year-old male leopard has not disturbed human beings but has killed goats and pet dogs in the nearby villages.

Forest department sources said that between May and September last year, efforts were made to trap the elusive feline through camera traps, but the exercise was given up after the leopard moved out of Chingleput RF. The big cat has started revisiting the area, as there is a small stream and a few mammals there, thus creating a prey base, sources said. Leopards are the most adaptive characters now facing huge habitat loss. In case of tiger habitats there are protective measures, whereas leopards rely on small-parched forests and the thickets sandwiched between villages and reserved forests, says wildlife activist K Mohanraj. There is an increasing trend of leopards straying and dying due to conflicts. In the past one month, two leopards have died due to human activities. Two weeks back in Coonoor, a leopard died after slipping into sewer slush and during the same week another leopard was found dead caught in a snare at Gudalur, he said adding that in both the cases there was no further investigation done.

TN supports a good leopard population and villages in Krishnagiri, Valparai, Coimbatore, Vellore and Theni need some special plans to study the animals so that importance is given also to the much ignored species,, said a wildlife biologist with the state forest department.

( Source : Deccan Chronicle. )
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