March 3, 2013 2:29:42 am
A leopard drowning on Thursday,within a fortnight of another dying in a similar fashion,has led wildlife experts to suggest the need for measures like covering wells or tanks in Junnar and other rural areas of Pune where there is a good distribution of leopards near areas of human habitation,a phenomenon that has been explained by wildlife expert Vidya Athreya.
Junnar,Khed,parts of Ahmednagar and several other areas of the state have a considerable leopard population thriving close to areas of human habitation. A study by Athreya,wildlife biologist at the Wildlife Conservation Society,shows that the animals had not strayed into human territory but had developed a unique ecology,living close to human-populated areas although avoiding human contact. In fact,Athreyas research showed that the number of leopards near human population in certain areas was higher than in protected areas.
The arid climate and the topography of Junnar and some other places,makes it mandatory for farmers to dig wells and construct percolation tanks to meet their agricultural needs.
Junnar,in particular,has a large number of wells dug deep,as water table in that area has seen a steady decline over the years.
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Talking about the incidents of leopards falling into the wells or tanks,Athreya stated that the animals reached these water bodies to quench their thirst. Such incidents rise in summer,when other water bodies the animals usually frequent start drying up.
During summer,water level in the wells go down and leopards often jump into the well to quench their thirst. This leads to the death of the animal if the animal is not able to get out, she said.
To prevent such deaths,Athreya said wells and water tanks should be covered with concrete. This would help prevent such deaths, she said.
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