Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve in India’s Tamil Nadu state has been witnessing a rise in leopard population in the last couple of years, with periodic sightings of the stealth cat.
The Sathyamangalam forest was once the home of notorious sandalwood-and-ivory smuggler Veerapan.
“Pugmarks of predators that had attacked a few livestock in fringe villages in Sathy range confirmed the entry of leopards into human habitation in the last couple of months. The department was quick to compensate the rearers to rule out retaliatory killings of wildlife by the livestock owners.
“Earlier this week, a motorist found a leopard walking along Dhimbam road. Though it was difficult to arrive at the total number of leopards in STR spread over 1,400 sq.km., there have been instances of camera traps indicating presence of five to six leopards within a few sq.km, said I. Anwardeen, Conservator of Forests and Director of Sathyamangalam Tiger Reserve.
“Posters were put up a year ago at Bannari check-post warning the public about the presence of leopards till Dhimbam. Two-wheelers were not permitted after sunset in the Bannari-Dhimbam stretch. “By nature, leopards do not attack humans. They are after preys small in size,” the Conservator said.
“The main reason for increase in leopard population had been easy availability of prey in the vast forest area. There was no sign of people on the hills desiring consumption of bush meat.”