Pune to study leopards in human habitat

With increasing incidence of man-leopard conflict, the recent one being at Nigdi, Pune forest division is all set to carry out a study on the "Genetical mutation in leopard species.' This is to study how leopards adapt themselves to human habitat. The first of its kind study has been approved at a meeting held by Union Minister of State for Environment and Forests (MoEF) S Raghupathy in the city. Deputy conservator of forests, Pune circle Ashok Khadse, who attended the meeting told The Indian Express of this development. The degradation of quality wildlife habitat and natural prey has forced leopards naturally to move towards human habitations. "We will carry out the study and have been asked to put forth our detailed proposal before the ministry,' said Khadse. The study will try to analyse the reasons behind the leopards adapting to sugarcane fields and agricultural lands and choosing dogs as their prey. While the proposal is yet to be worked out, Khadse said an earlier study of habitat and prey base in forest areas of Junnar division, Bhimashankar Sanctuary of Pune division was carried out. With a number of leopards entering populated areas, the recent one being the one at Nigdi, this study will help to understand this movement. The study will also observe whether the leopards have got acclimatized to human surroundings. Khadse said the expansion of Junnar rescue centre was another issue taken up and which was given the go- ahead from the ministry. Participation of various social organisations in wildlife management and implementing the metro green project too were discussed.