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Monday, May 16, 2022

Leopards to lone striped hyena: Cameras catch 20 mammals in Asola Bhatti sanctuary

The mammals at the sanctuary include five leopards that have been found to mostly use streams and forests of dhau trees within the sanctuary for movement, said Sohail Madan, who heads the Conservation Education Centre of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary.

Written by Abhinaya Harigovind | New Delhi |
Updated: January 16, 2022 9:39:35 am
Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, Conservation Education Centre of the Bombay Natural History Delhi Forest Department, Indian expressThe mammals at the sanctuary include five leopards.

The camera traps at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary have shown the presence of around 20 mammals, while a bird survey conducted on Saturday counted around 45 species of birds.

The mammals at the sanctuary include five leopards that have been found to mostly use streams and forests of dhau trees within the sanctuary for movement, said Sohail Madan, who heads the Conservation Education Centre of the Bombay Natural History Society (BNHS) at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary. There are two adult males, two adult females, and one sub-adult — the fifth leopard that was recently spotted on the camera traps.

In a three-year-long study, the BNHS and the Delhi Forest Department are attempting to gauge the habitat preferences of these animals. “We are trying to do a census of how many animals there are and mapping them to see what areas they are using,” Madan said. The study began in July last year and around 22 camera traps have been set out so far.

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Only a single striped hyena has been spotted at the sanctuary and it is confined to a specific area, he said. Sambar deer, hog deer (listed as endangered by the the International Union for Conservation of Nature), nilgai, blackbuck and spotted deer have also been caught on camera. The herbivores have a preference for open canopy forests and open grasslands, while the civets use streams for local movement, Madan added. The common palm civet and the small Indian civet have been spotted at the sanctuary. The langur, jackal, ruddy mongoose and grey mongoose are among the other animals that are at the sanctuary, along with populations of breeding pairs of porcupines.

This is the first time that a study is being undertaken to document the mammals at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, and some findings were surprising, according to Madan. The hog deer, for instance, was a rare and unexpected find.

The bird species that were found as part of the survey on Saturday include the Booted Eagle, Greater Spotted Eagle, Steppe Eagle, Egyptian Vulture, and Black-Winged Kite. The Egyptian Vulture has been listed as endangered by the IUCN. The Booted Eagle and the Steppe Eagle are winter migrant species at the sanctuary. “Lots of raptors come in the winter. There are birds of prey that migrate to Delhi in addition to the water birds. The small birds and rodents at the sanctuary provide a good prey base for migratory raptors,” Madan said. 18 species of raptors have been recorded at the sanctuary in winter raptor surveys held between 2017 and 2020.

“We knew that the sanctuary was rich in avian diversity, but we had no clue about the mammalian diversity. It has gone from being a heavily mined area which was highly disturbed, to what we have today…which points to the resilience of the forest to bounce back,” Madan said.

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