THE GUJARAT forest department has collared two leopards with satellite tags to study behaviour, movement patterns and habitat preference of the large carnivores in greater Gir landscape in Saurashtra region. Forest officers said that three more animals will be tagged in coming days. The project to study leopards come in the backdrop of five human deaths in conflict with leopards over the past two months.
“The Government of Gujarat is committed to the conservation of Asiatic Lions and all the other wildlife found in the state. Recently, Wildlife Division, Sasan-Gir, Gujarat had initiated a scientific research project under which two leopards have been radio-collared and release successfully in the Gir landscape. A total of five leopards will be radio-collared under this project,” Mohan Ram, Deputy Conservator of Forests (DCF) of Sasan wildlife division stated in an official release on Tuesday.
The DCF said that for the research project, the radio-collars, specially designed for Indian leopard have been imported. These unique radio-collars are similar to the coat of the leopard and thus can camouflage with the body. “This work may help in collecting the lesser-known information about the species like its daily movement during the day and night, habitat preference, activity pattern, etc. The use of modern technology may reveal numerous hidden fats about this elusive big cat. Such information may provide scientific knowledge to mitigate human-wildlife conflict in the future,” the release further quoted the DCF as saying.
However, the Sasan DCF said the project was not linked to these recent conflicts. “It was approved by the Government of India long back,” said Ram.
The DCF added that the two leopards which have been collared so far are males. “We are doing collaring opportunistically, meaning we are collaring those leopards captured from fringes where there has been conflict,” Ram said but refused to comment when asked if the two leopards collared so far were involved in any conflict with humans.
He said the research project would run for around a year or a year-and-a-half but can also be extended if need be