<!– /11440465/Dna_Article_Middle_300x250_BTF –>Over the new few months, a wildlife researcher will conduct the first-ever camera-trapping survey of the Indian Institute of Technology at Powai to capture images of leopards on campus.Nikit Surve of the Wildlife Conservation Society-India is currently carrying out a similar exercise at the Sanjay Gandhi National Park (SGNP) for monitoring the density of leopards. This is the second phase of the initial study conducted between December 2014 and April 2015 to estimate the density of the leopard population as well as its wild and domestic prey. and to determine the big cats’ food habits. The study will track the diet of leopards in the campus to check if it is the stray dogs that are attracting the big cats.The cameras will be set up on both sides of crossings, and the flank rosettes – as the leopard skin pattern is known – from the leopards spotted at IIT will be matched with those from SGNP to see if the cats are travelling between the two locations. It will also help identify individual leopards. SNGP had last year conducted a leopard survey, which will also be used to match the rosette patterns on the big cats caught on camera on the IIT-Powai campus.The study aims to understand the dispersal of leopards whose images are captured at IIT.”We have set up camera traps at SGNP and also have a data bank of images of leopards from previous study. Once we have images of leopards from IIT we will be able to pin point if the leopards from SGNP or Aarey are travelling all the way to IIT or these are big cats staying in and around the campus permanently,” Surve told DNA.”I had requested for permissions to set up camera traps at IIT-B and they have sanctioned the request. We are scouting for sites where the leopards movements are frequent and will be setting up two-camera traps,” he said.Surve is also seeking help from IIT-B students to set up the traps and to monitor the images as this will create more awareness about leopards and their habits.The research team will also hold awareness workshops at IIT for students as well as faculty, staff, and campus residents so that they understand leopard behaviour and can take measures to avoid man-leopard conflict.Leopard movement has been quite frequent on the IIT campus and students claim the big cats sneak in to feast on the dogs on campus. In fact, in July 2014, the IIT was almost taken over by the forest department for four days after a leopard was spotted in one of the labs….& analysisDespite regular sighting of leopards inside the campus, there has never been any specific study done to understand their dispersal in and around the campus. It is important for wildlife biologists to find out what was attracting the big cats to the campus.
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