Planning a systematic documentation of Indian Leopards and conflict issues

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#1 Aug 27th, 2011, 06:19
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  • abheekg is offline
#1
Dear All
I have been thinking of devoting a greater part of the next 2 years in search of Leopards apart from continuing my documentation of the Pench, Tadoba and Bandhavgad tigers Documenting the growth of 5 Tiger cubs in Pench Tiger Reserve : 2011-2013 , The Magic of Monsoons in Tiger reserves , Ambushing a Tiger - Story of a Teamwork with 2 Gypsies & what ails Bandhavgad today.

I will look for inputs from all of you regarding best places to visit in India, best people to get in touch with who know about Leopard movements apart from inputs from senior and rookie travellers about the best and reasonable to the pocket places to stay at the various Leopard destinations.

I have had about a dozen leopard encounters so far in the last 5 years (and have been generally unlucky wrt leopards) . All my encounters with Leopards so far have been in Tiger dominating landscapes (central Indian Jungles) where I have found this animal to be very shy and secretive in nature and preferring the dark of the night or the twilight hours for its operations. All my encounters so far have been momentary.

I understand that in landscapes where the tiger numbers are less (eg: jungles of south India, etc)the Leopard makes a more confident appearance and behaves almost like how a tiger behaves in the central Indian forests.

I would like to utilise and take help of the collective database of the entire IM community and help me locate places in India where I could adequately photograph the Leopard. I will consider attaining Nirvana in this subject the day I am able to spot and photograph a black Panther in its natural habitat.

A side motive of this thread will also be to spread about the leopard-man conflict which is on the rise in India due to shrinking forests and other issues.

My first call for help to the entire community : I am planning a trip to Bandipur/Kabini/Nagarhole in the last week of January 2012 (as I have heard from Leopard experts that its the best time to visit these forests) . I need inputs on places to stay apart from the JLR lodges. As a wildlife traveller, I never like to spend a dime more than I can afford to on my stay and I will happily pitch my tent and utilise the money thus saved to go for more drives in the jungle. There is a lot of data on these forests on this forum but I want this thread to be a one stop place for information for any traveller in India who wants to photograph leopards and so I call upon all the experts on south Indian forests to start contributing here with their inputs.

How many days should I plan my trip to be? I have about 7 days to spare around Jan end. How do I best utilize these 7 days and not burn a hole in my pocket in the process? How do I ensure leopard encounters in the various jungles?

regards,
Dr. A Ghosh

Here's a pic of a leopard that I saw about 2 years back in Pench.
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One fine afternoon during the evening drive, we sudddenly saw langur monkeys look at us and start giving the alarm call of the leopard. We were about to dismiss the calls as fake when Neeraj spotted this beauty sitting behind us.
Last edited by aarosh; May 2nd, 2012 at 15:59..
#2 Aug 27th, 2011, 10:56
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#2
Hello Abheek

Firstly let me record my appreciation for all your wonderful posts here.

In my opinion as an ordinary nature lover without any science background as opposed to wildlife "enthusiast/expert", I would suggest

Sanjay Gandhi National Park as an ideal place to study leopards vis a vis man animal conflict. Im sure that the forest department authorities would be more than happy to cooperate.

Sightings of the black panther have been reported from the Nilgiris, specifically in the more remote forests in the Avalanche area. I know because a friend who lives in the TNEB colony there has himself seen one, apart from separate sightings being recorded by scientists. I am sure that the DFO Nilgiris would welcome you with open arms!

The black panther has also been seen in the Wynad forests.

Good luck with your project and do keep India Mike in the loop.
Travelpod / Flickr


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#3 Aug 27th, 2011, 15:03
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#3
Good that you started this thread. The Man Animal conflict is taking it's toll on the Leopard & every week at least one Leopard is being killed if not more.

As Snonymous has mentioned SGNP has a sizable number of Leopard population. But to explore the place you will have to go on foot along with the forest guards & prior permissions are necessary unlike in places like Pench & Tadoba where you can go on jeep or an elephant safari.

Not from personal experience but from what I have read & heard
1] Gir has quite a sizable no. of Leopard population & sighitngs are frequent.
2] Wildlife sanctuaries in South India report more Leopard sightings (on regular bases) than their Central India cousins. When I visited Nagarhole in November 2007 regular Leopard sightings were reported on earlier days (for three four days continuously) but we did not spot one.
3] Bera a place around 150 Kms from Udaipur has some Leopard population. Off late this place seen a rise in tourist activities.

Ronak.
#4 Aug 27th, 2011, 16:10
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#4
Abheek,

What a co-incidence! Only couple of days back, I was thinking as to why you are not into documenting leopards.

As suggested by Snonymous and Ronak, I think, SGNP may fit well into your scheme of things for the following reasons :

1. The probability of sighting leopards in SGNP may be higher than other wildlife sanctuaries as density of leopard population is high in SGNP.

2. Your good rapport with forest officials of Pench and Tadoba may help you in getting necessary logistics and infrastructure that may be required for your project including your stay inside SGNP.

3. It is an overnight train journey from your place of work (Nagpur). If I go by what you have been doing for your projects in Pench, Tadoba and Bandhavgadh, I am sure that your 'Project Leopard', may also require you to make revisits to the place of your study.

4. Finally, SGNP may pinch you less in terms of cost than other touristy places like Bandipur-Nagorehole.

Connected with your subject is the story of a leopard which was rescued from a well and released in forest around Manchar (in Pune district)after fixing a tracking device on his neck. The said leopard trekked about 120 kms to land around Mumbai in 78 days. Here is the link to the story :

http://www.projectwaghoba.in/docs/pune_mirror_ajoba.pdf
#5 Aug 29th, 2011, 16:47
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#5
I second about the leopard sightings in Gir though I have never seen it. People say leopard sightings are frequent in Gir as leopard population there is about 400. Also, it will give you a chance to shoot asiatic lion families as well.

Few weeks ago I visited Ratanmahal Bear Sanctuary at gujarat-Madhyapradesh border region, which is about 56 sq. km. only. Though, it has about 27 leopards and 78 bears. That means we can have a good chance of spotting a leopard. Also, it is near Devgadh Baria which is a focal point in man-leopard conflict. A forest ranger in out forest rest house said just a week before a man had been attacked by leopard but luckily saved.

The place is dirt cheap as well as it is rarely visited by people.
“Tourists don’t know where they’ve been, travelers don’t know where they’re going.” - Paul Theroux
#6 Sep 5th, 2011, 22:47
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#6
Abheek - Sound like another interesting plan in your quest for Big-Cats, I see no reason why you should leave leopard and lions?? and I am glad you did finally plan. Though Black Panther is like searching for diamond in the sea, yet not impossible. I liked your indomitable desire and can vouch for Nameri National Park in the NE, near Assam-Arunachal border, where forest officials claimed to have sighted this rarest elusive cat deep inside the jungles. Nameri has the unique on the foot safari concept which I visited last year and going once again this year end.

http://naturebeckon.blogspot.com/201...ga-nameri.html
Regards,
Safique
#7 Oct 2nd, 2011, 13:06
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#7
Abheek,

This news may be of interest to you and all other wildlife enthusiastics :

Camera trap captures leopards at SGNP.

Details and pictures here.
#8 Oct 3rd, 2011, 04:44
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Hello Abheekg, delighted to hear you are goingto lookat the lepoard situation. I was priveledged to see two leopards at Nargarhole,one ran across in front of us in daylight and another was sleeping in a tree some distance away.In the photo you can see himclimbing down the tree!

http://www.indiamike.com/photopost/s...0/ppuser/38928
#9 Oct 3rd, 2011, 08:20
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They rarely cross in front of the jeep, almost always waiting for the vehicle to pass. Most people miss them because of this tactic. If you're driving you'll need a spotter, if you're being driven - you know where to look! Their territory is well marked too - scouting is imperative!

Best of luck & will be watching this thread with interest!!
We shall not cease from exploration, and the end of all our exploring will be to arrive where we started and know the place for the first time. ~
T. S. Eliot

http://www.derekgrantdigital.com
#10 Oct 3rd, 2011, 14:24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sadanand Kamath View Post Abheek,

This news may be of interest to you and all other wildlife enthusiastics :

Camera trap captures leopards at SGNP.

Details and pictures here.
As mentioned in the article this is the first instance of a Leopard being caught in the frame after setting up of the Camera trap by SGNP officials.

But some days earlier a CCTV camera of a Borivali Housing society caught a big cat in the frame. Read full report here http://m.mumbaimirror.com/index.aspx...316412aaff12a1

One of the members of the housing soceity has uploaded the CCTV footage (though not clear) on you tube. Her's the link http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lty7Kt8cszM

It seems this activities take place mainly during night time only.

Ronak.
#11 Oct 4th, 2011, 02:07
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#11

One more story of Man - Leopard conflict

There is one more story of Man - Leopard conflict where Sanjay Borle's body was found (after 11 days since he went missing) near a pond in the SGNP area. Here's the link http://www.mid-day.com/news/2011/oct...by-leopard.htm

Ronak.
#12 Dec 3rd, 2011, 15:51
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#12

Leopard who trekked from Pune to Mumbai dies in road accident

Ajoba, whose miraculous 120-km journey in 2009 was mapped by a radio transmitter, hit by a heavy vehicle on NH8

Here is the link to full story
http://www.mumbaimirror.com/index.as...2704656193f13d

Ronak.
#13 Dec 4th, 2011, 03:44
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#13
Quote:
Originally Posted by shahronakm View Post Ajoba, whose miraculous 120-km journey in 2009 was mapped by a radio transmitter, hit by a heavy vehicle on NH8
Sad indeed for that Leopard to become another roadkill victim. I am all for doing what is necessary, locally, to preserve and improve where possible the habitat and game for Leopard to continue to survive.

These winter days, game i.e barking Deer i often spot with the binoculars grazing on the hill sides opposite my house, as game and Leopard move down the hillside the colder winter becomes. Of course it's much more difficult to spot Leopard with the bins, but sure enough Leopard or maybe two, are around. One especially hears their distinctive call (like sawing plyboard) in the last light of day, and almost every evening these days. Of course we know (villagers et al) Leopard is around because Bulls and dogs particularly, go missing or are found dead and eaten. Have lost three dogs to Leopard in five years and ours are not the sleeping outside on the doorstep variety that most village dogs are. When they all go off barking in the night across the way you can be sure Leopard in prowling - no one except a lost drunk would be out and about.

So dogs pick up the scent and go nuts, but also give themselves away. Our Labrador had her hind leg broken by Leopard in an encounter 20 feet from my front door a year ago, luckily i think it was a young 'un and as we heard the screams of the dog and were quick to respond and scare Leopard off with one of those 5million candlepower torches (power cut at the time). Therefore Leopard regularly patrols the house on the off chance of nabbing a dog, and in monsoon as well as we have seen the pugmarks. Still Leopard is hard to spot as it could be lying there ten feet away and you'd never know it.

I would say everyone is mostly respectful locally on our hillsides which is reserved forest and so hopefully that converts to this area being a long term Leopard refuge because of this symbiotic attitude. Leopard is regularly spotted in the daytime as well, e.g by women cutting grass on the higher hillsides or simply by chance. I'm always looking myself and Leopard hereabouts is certainly not shy and retiring, i have had darshan so many times. That darshan has been of the looking in the eyes at each other type encounter. Leopard displaying a fearless and regal countenance where one is awed by the grace and gentle gait as Leopard moves slowly away to a distance where Leopard will stop, sit and observe you.

Kandhar Devta, the presiding deity of these here hills is said to manifest as Leopard - certainly can appear that way.
#14 Dec 4th, 2011, 17:28
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#14
Thanks for an insight on the man - animal conflict in your area.

Ronak.
#15 Dec 4th, 2011, 21:40
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#15
Thanks for sharing this Paleface, I found your insight really interesting.
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