The forest department of Haryana on Thursday (8 December 2016) found pugmarks of a leopard and two cubs in a private farm at Harchandpur, a village near Mandawar, in Sohna (India). This was the first time that leopard activity in the district Gurgaon has been confirmed by the forest department since November 24, when a leopard was beaten to death by locals after it had strayed into Mandawar village.
Residents of Mandawar and the neighbouring villages of Kheri Lala and Harchandpur have reported at least four leopard sightings in the last fortnight. However, no pugmarks were found to corroborate the claims.
“On Thursday morning, we got a call from district forest authorities that some people had reported having again seen a leopard with two cubs in a private farm. We rushed to the spot and carried out an inspection for nearly two hours. Finally, we found pugmarks of both the leopard and the cubs,” said an inspector at the forest department. He added the big cat is most likely a female.
M D Sinha, the conservator of forests (Gurgaon circle) said, “The department found pugmarks in Harchandpur on Thursday. We can’t deny movement of big cats in the area. . But there’s no need to panic. We just need to educate villagers to avoid human-animal conflict.”
Villagers and some environmentalists, though, alleged forest department field staff is ill-equipped to deal with the situation. “Villagers didn’t want to kill the leopard on November 24, but the department was ill-equipped to handle the situation. We couldn’t put lives of our people at risk, and thus had to take the extreme step,” said Kapil Khatana, a resident of Kherli Lala, a village adjacent to Mandawar.
“We have been spotting leopards in the area almost daily, and have been reporting these to forest officials. But they kept saying it wasn’t true,” said Ram Maher, a resident of Mandawar. He added, “Today, they finally found the pugmarks. This means the leopard has increased its presence in the area. We just want authorities to make sure our families are safe here.”
Jitender Bhadana of NGO Save Aravalis said, “It’s due to negligence of the forest department that the leopard got killed on November 24. We need to hold the people who killed the leopard as well as the forest department officials responsible. There’s need to spread awareness about co-existence of humans and wild animals.” (The Times of India)