Radio collars for leopards in north Bengal
Bengal Forest Department, in a first-of-its-kind experiment with leopards in the state, has radio-collared and released two of them in the wild. This will help officials and experts get crucial information about the animals’ behavior, and consequently, about the behavior of leopards in general, and thus, among other things, prevent human-leopard conflicts in north Bengal in the long run. It is a fact that leopards mostly attack humans in self-defence.
Earlier, the Bengal Government has successfully radio-collared tigers and elephants, gleaning crucial information about these animals.
According to a senior Forest Department official, this experiment is much more important as leopards stay closest to humans, with the territories of both often overlapping. At least 60-70 human injuries are reported every year in north Bengal because of leopard attacks.
Significantly, therefore, the two leopards (both males, with one being a sub-adult and the other, an adult) radio-collared, according to the chief wildlife warden of Bengal, are from two human-dominated areas near Jaldapara National Park and Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary. One of them was captured from a place close to Dalgaon tea estate near Jaldapara and the other from a private tea estate in Sukna, near Mahananda Wildlife Sanctuary.
Officials want to track the cats’ movement and behavior, and the strategies they take to avoid direct contact with people when they sneak into human-dominated areas. The collars will also work as an early-warning system for man-animal conflict. Additionally, the animals’ movement pattern will help to form an idea about their habitats, which can later be scanned for scat samples; and analysis of these samples can reveal their food habits.
The chief wildlife warden has said they have plans to collar more leopards to get an idea about the leopard population.