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Elusive leopard puts locks on Ralamandal

Sunday, 9 February 2014 - 7:13pm IST | Place: Indore | Agency: DNA
Officials now unable to find even its pugmarks

History seems to be repeating at Ralamandal sanctuary again!

Four years ago, a leopard on prowl had forced the forest officials to close down the sanctuary for two weeks. On Saturday, the officials announced an “indefinite” closure of the sanctuary, as the leopard that has remained elusive a week now, is yet to be trapped.

“The sanctuary has been indefinitely closed as we want every person entering it to be safe,” said sub divisional officer Ashok Kharate.

He said till Thursday, the leopard’s pugmarks had been spotted at various locations. “We have been constantly patrolling the sanctuary but in the last two days not a single pugmark has been found,” Kharate added.

Forest officials claimed that it was natural that capturing a leopard was taking so much of time.

“Leopards are very elusive animals, so it takes a lot of time to trace and capture them,” said Chief Conservator of Forest (CCF) R R Okhandiar.

“Another reason contributing to the delay in trapping the leopard is the area itself. Ralamandal being a sanctuary is governed by certain laws. So, we cannot use traditional methods like lighting a fire in the dark to attract the leopard, as lighting fire within the sanctuary is not permitted, “ Okhandiar said. The number of traps however has been increased from one to four, he added.

Forest officials said so far the sanctuary has lost more than Rs 7,000 in terms of ticket revenue. “A similar incident had taken place four years ago when we had to close down the sanctuary for two weeks until the leopard was captured but revenue has never been our concern over human life,” said Kharate.

It’s difficult to trap this cat
Trapping a leopard is a difficult task. These cats spend most of their time on tree branches or lying in thick undergrowth to camouflage their spotted coats. They can live without drinking water for up to a month, as their need for water is primarily satisfied by the fluids from the prey they eat.  

The leopard is stealthy and secretive, staying as far out of the sight of humans as possible.  It is very difficult and rare to ever spot one in the wild. Except for the head and legs, the leopard’s body has a light coloured coat with distinctive dark spots which are grouped in circles called “rosettes”, because they resemble the shape of a rose. This stunning spotted coat lets the leopard blend with surrounding bushes and trees.

The leopards are usually considered top predators in their home range. They are the strongest climbers of all the big cats and also strong swimmers. They can also jump up to ten feet straight up into the air.

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