Research shows that capturing leopards simply because they are spotted can increase conflicts with humans, opined Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Research Fellow Dr Vidya Athreya.
Addressing mediapersons and journalism students at a workshop on ‘Dealing with leopards and elephants in human-use landscapes,’ organised by the WCS in collaboration with Mangalore Press Club and DK Working Journalists’ Association at Press Club on Thursday, Vidya, citing her study, said that the results from Maharashtra showed that attacks on humans increased near the leopard release sites.
“Results of our work also shows that dialogue with stakeholders is extremely important to alleviate conflict,” she said and added that the stakeholders include the forest department, police department, media and public.
Quoting from her research study conducted in Maharashtra, she said that the leopards were capable of living outside forests, in croplands, among high density of people and surprisingly with very low levels of conflict.
Vidya said that the leopards don’t attack people even though they have a high potential to do so. “Dogs are and goats are an important component of their diet,” she noted.
Stating that different agencies have different biases against the leopards, she said that urban policy makers, urban conservationists, rural farmers, media as well as biologists have different biases as far as leopards were concerned.
To a query, she said that removal of a leopard from a place was not a solution as studies had proved that the moment a leopard is trapped and removed (shifted), others occupy the place. She also cited an example of how a leopard travelled back about 120 km in just 25 days to the spot, where it was trapped.
Another speaker, Virat Singh, a reporter from Mumbai, while speaking on role of media in reporting wildlife - human interactions, citied a few examples on how the media had allayed the fears of citizens of Mumbai.
Earlier, Pilikula Nisargadhama Executive Director Prabhakar Sharma, who inaugurated the workshop, said there was a need for good animal rescue centre as far as Pilikula Nisargadhama is concerned, so that the authorities concerned can take good care of the rescued animals.
Stating that a Rs 90 lakh proposal has been sent to the government, Sharma said that apart from the centre, veterinary doctors, vehicles, medicines and tranquilising guns to face any eventualities were also required.