Increasing urbanisation and developmental projects near jungle areas and rising number of leopards with sub-adults wanting to demarcate their territories nearer to fringe locations are some of the reasons for leopards reaching to cities and towns.
If the number of leopards increase above the carrying capacity in a particular jungle area then the big cats would move outside for finding new habitat, prey-base and water. The sub-adults get separated from their mothers in the shrinking jungle and go in search of a suitable habitat elsewhere. The leopards avoid creating territory inside deep jungle because they want to avoid territorial fights with strong tigers. So many big cats live near the boundaries of forest, where villages are also located. All these aspects lead to man-animal conflict as they kill domestic animals and even enter in urban localities.
There are examples of leopards moving to city areas such as in IT Park, Ambazari or Vayusena Nagar in Nagpur or in Savangi-Meghe on the outskirts of Wardha yesterday. The animals find spacious premises at such places like Vayusena Nagar or mining areas of WCL in Chandrapur district and try to explore possibility of making home there, said reliable sources while talking to The Live Nagar here on Tuesday.
Leopards in Pune, Nashik, Ahmednagar or other places in Western Maharashtra have shifted from jungle and made their home in sugarcane fields. They get pigs, dogs or other small animals to satisfy their hunge. Because of secluded areas, the carnivores get full protection in such artificially created habitats, except finding difficulties for cubs while harvesting sugarcan crops.
Moreover, there is no check on the increasing population of leopards, which come under the category of Schedule I in Wildlife Protection Act, 1972. There is latest technology of firing dart to leopardess for injecting reversible chemical contraceptive or vasectomy operation in leopards to control the population. However, no efforts has been done in this regard so far.
According to sources, there could be 5000 to 6000 leopards all over Maharashtra. It is difficult to get exact figure due to lack of estimation.