Habitat Loss




Residents of some parts of Kathmandu were in for a big surprise lately: their localities attracted big jungle cats. Leopards were found entering in the private houses of metropolitan city of Kathmandu. On Thursday, an adult leopard had entered a private house. Zoo officials, who were summoned to rescue the stranded jungle cat, tranqualised the wild cat before it was released in the Shivapuri Forest.

 In January, two incidents of stranded leopards came to pass- first a leopard entered the locality in Kirtipur and another was found in a rest room of a private house in New Baneshwor. Other parts of the country also reported of leopards entering the human settlements on regular basis. In a few incidents, the prowling cats have attacked human beings. A lady lost her life in Pokhara after an infuriated leopard attacked her. These are but few incidents in which the beautiful cats entering human settlements and causing harm to the people’s life and their domestic animals.

Why do the forest cats enter human settlements so frequently? The answer is simple: loss of their habitat and the decrease in food availability. During the recent times, owing to rapid urbanization, the once sprawling forests areas have shrunk, decreasing the spaces for the jungle cats to roam around and hunt for foods. The hungry forest cats thus enter the human settlements looking for foods. When encountered with bipeds like us, they do not hesitate to pounce on them, obviously for their own safety.

There are other reasons that attract the forest cats to the human settlements. They are lured to the urban areas and villages because they know that there is food in abundance, in the form of domestic goats, dogs, small size bovines and other animals in these areas. An official from Jawalakhel-based zoo recently revealed that the ageing jungle cats that cannot hunt deer for foods come to the human settlements where they can get dogs and goats easily. He also said that once the hungry leopard eats dogs and goats, of whose meat is brackish in taste, they then try to come down to the urban areas frequently,  looking for these animals as they start liking dogs and goats more than the preys they eat in forests.

The loss of habitat and shrinking sources of foods have been spurring leopards to the villages and urban areas. The situation has created troubles for the hapless animals. More often than not, these animals are killed by the apprehensive people. The arrival of these animals in human settlements poses more threats to them.

It is high time that the government authority paid more heed to the plight of these beautiful animals. The authority should ensure that their habitats are preserved so that they remain secure in the lush green forests where they can get their food easily. Even if the hungry cats enter the urban areas, the safety of these stranded animals should be given highest priority. The rescue team should be pressed into action before any harm is done to the animal. The people should be made aware about the safety and importance of these animals. The people should also be told that they must keep safe distance from the dangerous animal and must not hurt or kill the poor animals that have come to their settlements.


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