A leopard which strayed into Yamuna Biodiversity Park from Haryana last month was caught by the forest and wildlife department at 6.30 am on Saturday. The young male leopard will now be sent to Rajaji National Park, even as a petition against laying traps to capture it is being heard in the Delhi High Court.
“We don’t want a situation such as the one in Gurgaon where a leopard was killed by villagers. This one had strayed into the Yamuna floodplain near Jagatpur. We had been tracking its movements for several days. When it was caught, the leopard’s belly was empty. Previously, the young male had hunted a blue bull calf. We did not want a situation where there is a conflict between humans and leopards and someone gets hurt,” said chief wildlife warden A K Shukla.
According to a statement by Wildlife SOS, which carried out the “rescue” operation along with the forest department, local farmers alerted the department after they spotted the leopard.
“A veterinarian from the Delhi zoo was called in to tranquilise the young leopard with a dart gun using a sedative injection. The sleeping animal was then transported to the National Zoological Park for a thorough medical examination. The leopard is estimated to be three years old,” read the statement.
According to leopard experts, shifting the animal out of Delhi is not the way to deal with a potential problem.
“This is an easy way out. The biodiversity park will soon have to deal with more leopards. The fact that the leopard lived there for some time means the habitat to sustain one is present in the park. The entire Aravalli region has leopards. Will you shift them all out because they are near human habitation? A long-term solution, like the one in
Mumbai, needs to be adopted. Engagement with citizens and police is needed to tell each what their duty is. If police are asked to control the crowd, no unfortunate incident will happen. This will take more time but will be more effective in managing potential conflicts,” said Vidya
Athreya, who studies leopards.
Late last month, a leopard in Gurgaon was killed by villagers using sticks and stones after it attacked a few people. Police and forest officials could not protect the animal as the enraged mob got out of control.
Shukla said the leopard was captured on Saturday only when it strayed outside the area of the biodiversity park.
“A leopard is not a very territorial animal and changes its territory often. There was a chance it would have entered highly populated areas around the park,” he said. Park officials had lauded the entry of the leopard as it meant their efforts to restore Delhi’s lost biodiversity was proving to be a success.