Leopards straying into city to be fitted with radio tracking collar

Kathmandu, June 4

For the first time in Nepal, Kathmandu District Forest Office and Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park plan to use radio collars to track leopards around the Valley. The move comes in the wake of recurring incidents of leopards entering residential areas in the Valley of late.

Four Indian leopards were rescued and released into the Shivapuri forest and one quarantined from Samakhusi, Baneshwor, Kirtipur, Matatirtha, and Kuleshwor in the past year alone. While there are many forests around the city where leopards live, these big cats are believed to have entered the city from the Shivapuri forest.

“Tracking collars would allow us to collect baseline data like home range sizes, daily movements, behavioural data, diet, and what pushes the big cats to the city,” District Forest Officer Dr Indra Sapkota said, adding “If everything goes as planned, all leopards that enter residential areas would be fitted with radio tracking collars after they are tranquilized and examined.”

Sapkota said the District Forest Office is currently trying to purchase the most suitable tracking device.  The forest offices of Kathmandu, Lalitpur and Bhaktapur, Nepali Army, Nepal Police, Armed Police Force, lawyers, and others have formed a coordinated Wildlife Crime Control Bureau for this project.

Chief Warden at Shivapuri Nagarjun National Park Kamal Jung Kunwar said, “Considering the fact that no census of leopards has been conducted in Nepal as of yet, this project could be a breakthrough in learning more about their ecology and behaviour.”

The data collected through radio tracking will be continuously forwarded to the Department of National Parks and Wildlife Conservation.

Wildlife expert Dr Mukesh Kumar Chalise said the Indian leopard is the most commonly found species in Nepal. It can walk up to 50 km a day and unlike other predators, hunts during both day and night.

The other leopard species found in Nepal are the snow leopard and clouded leopard. Snow leopards live in the Himalayas, while clouded leopards live in the Mahabharat range.