Lack of prey pushing leopards into city

Kathmandu, May 2

A leopard that had strayed into Kuleshwor was tranquilised by authorities yesterday and then released into Shivapuri forest after minor treatment at the Central Zoo.

A figure obtained from the zoo shows six leopards enter the city area in the Kathmandu Valley on an average annually. But authorities and experts are not aware of the actual reasons as to why leopards enter residential areas.

According to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation, no research has been conducted so far to establish the reasons and it simply relies on presumption.

Deputy Director General at the DNPWC Dr Maheshwor Dhakal said encroachment of its natural habitat had prompted the big cats to go on the loose.

“Whatever the exact cause may be, rapid urbanisation on the outskirts of the Valley has harmed the core habitat of leopards,” he said. “Lack of prey species in their habitat is the reason that makes them enter the cities in search of food,” added Dhakal.

Wildlife expert Dr Mukesh Kumar Chalise reasoned that significant decrease in prey species and leopard-friendly habitats in the Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park could be blamed for leopards straying into human settlements.

“Tall trees and greenery in the forests alone couldn’t ensure good habitat for leopards, as there should be shrubs and suitable prey,” he said, “Lack of food of prey animals led to decrease in prey species that is forcing the leopards to stray into cities for survival,” Dr Chalise added.

He stressed the need for corridor connectivity between Nagarjun Shivapuri National Park and surrounding forests where leopards move frequently.