The Wildlife Institute of India (WII), Dehradun, has estimated an expenditure of approximately Rs 40 lakh to conduct a census regarding the leopard population in three areas including Morni Hills, Kalesar National Park in Yamunanagar district and Aravali Hills. The institute, while accepting the proposal of Haryana Forest and Wildlife Department, has invited primer wildlife research institutes for conducting the census.
The estimated cost of Rs 40 lakh includes expenses of installing camera traps, wild animal surveillance systems, ascertaining the availability of prey species, Proof of Performance (PoP) for tracking the pug marks of leopard, leopardess and cubs, labor costs, transport charges and expenditure on hiring field biologists. WII asserted that the census will take over two months and the final result will be released after a thorough study of collected data.
Conservator of Forest (CF), under Haryana’s Forest Department, ML Rajvanshi, said, “The WII has accepted to conduct the census and has estimated a cost of Rs 40 lakh for it. We will forward WII’s assertion to the state government for financial approval. The census in Morni Hills, Kalesar National Park and Aravali Hills has been pending since years.
In 2016, a census was conducted but only in Kalesar National Park. This time, we want to hold a census in these three areas as they constitute Haryana’s core forest land.”
Morni Hills spread over 60,000 acres. Of this, 50,807 acres is under Haryana Forest Department. Morni includes two wildlife sanctuaries – Bir Shikargah and Khol Hi-Raitan, which are interlinked with Sher Jung National Park in Sirmor district of Himachal Pradesh, through Kalesar National Park. Morni Hills also share the boundaries of Nepali Forest, Chandigarh, and some parts of Himachal Pradesh from Solan side.
According to field staff and sightings, there are around 40 leopards in Morni and Kalesar jungles.
In 2017, Haryana Forest and Wildlife Department invited WII field biologist, Bilal Habib, for conducting a feasibility study of leopards at the cost of Rs 80 lakh and for exploring the idea of a leopard sanctuary at Morni Hills. In 2018, the plan was abandoned as 20 panchayats strongly objected the construction of a safari in the hills as it would attract several restrictions for the local folk.