- The Zoological Survey of India (ZSI) has begun a census of leopards in the Una district under the project, ‘Population estimation of common leopard and black bear in Himachal Pradesh’.
- A ZSI post-doctorate fellow, Dr. Shahid Ahmad Dar, says the project funded by the state government has first been launched in Una during the winter, as it is the warmest district of the state. The project will later be implemented in higher altitude areas after the winter.
- He says that the census work, which has two years mandate, is being undertaken under the overall guidance of Dr. Lalit Sharma, a scientist at the ZSI headquarters in Kolkata.
- About techniques used to count wild animals, Dr. Dar says prior to 2006, pugmarks of animals were observed on soft forest surfaces. With new technological interventions, DNA samples from animal scat and photos captured by motion camera trap installed in forest areas are used to count animals.
- Prior to 2006, pugmarks of animals were observed on soft forest surfaces. With new technological interventions, DNA samples from animal scat and photos captured by motion camera trap installed in forest areas are used to count animals.
- The ZSI scientist says besides population estimation, the project will also include the identification of hotspots for animalhuman conflicts and plans for their mitigation. He adds the instances of human conflict with black bears and common leopards prompted the Wildlife Department to undertake the project
- Dar says the state’s forest cover is divided into grids of five by five kilometers. Each grid where the exercise is to be undertaken is studied on the basis of satellite images.
- Walking trails are documented and four teams comprising two members each, zero in on a designated location from four different directions, identifying potential routes that animals may take and spots for fixing motion cameras.
Leopard census starts in Una
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