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Surge in movement of leopards into city areas raises concern

Strays dogs, leftover food attracting leopards: Experts
12:00 AM Apr 15, 2024 IST | Rabiya Bashir
surge in movement of leopards into city areas raises concern
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Srinagar, Apr 14:  A concerning surge in the movement of leopards into urban habitats in the summer capital has sparked fears among locals.

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Leopards, traditionally thriving in natural habitats abundant with prey like the Himalayan langur and Hangul, are now adapting to urban landscapes, where stray dogs have become their favourite prey.

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Recent sightings of leopards in residential areas of Rangpora, Illahibagh, and Malabagh in Srinagar outskirts have left the local community on the edge. Local residents have resorted to staying indoors, closing doors and windows as a precautionary measure.

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As per the experts, an alarming trend of leopards encroaching into urban areas are due to increasing dog population, which has inadvertently become a favoured prey for the big cats.

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Wildlife Warden, central Srinagar Parvaiz Ahmad said that habitat fragmentation is not the primary culprit behind this phenomenon.

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"Natural habitats of these creatures are teeming with abundant prey such as the Himalayan langur and Hangul. The main reason for the increase in leopard population in urban areas is the growing dog population. Leopards are adapting to the urban landscape due to the increasing availability of dogs as prey," Parvaiz told Greater Kashmir.

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He said that improper disposal of waste and leftover food has led to a proliferation of stray dogs, consequently attracting leopards into the neighborhoods.

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He said the implications of this phenomenon are grave, posing a significant threat to both human safety and wildlife conservation efforts.

"As a society, it is imperative that we prioritise effective waste management practices to mitigate the escalating conflict between humans and wildlife," he said.

He said that the wildlife teams have been deputed and cages are being installed in Ahmadnagar, Rangpora and Malabagh area. “Our teams are patrolling these areas,’ he added.

As per the official data, 2,918 people have been and 244 deaths have occurred from 2006 to 2022 in human-animal conflict in J&K. In 2022 alone, 15 were killed in man-animal conflicts including seven children.

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