Johnny Gnanapragasam - 10th – 12 th January 2016
aim of our visit to the Vavunikulam region was to obtain evidence of the
presence of mainly leopards and also the presence of the Jungle Cat, Rusty
Spotted Cat and the Fishing Cat.
I walked around 25km looking for signs such as scat, pugmarks and scrapings and
of course sightings of leopards and the other three cats. Three of our trails
which were off the main track were muddy and inundated with water. However we
still managed to obtain pugmarks and scat in these trails. We were also very
lucky to see two cattle which had fallen prey to a leopard a few days before we
arrived. We also heard the villagers shouting and warning each other that a
leopard was in the area in the middle of the night.
we observed leopards are indeed present as we obtained scat and pugmarks to
prove it. Villagers keep their goats, cattle and buffalo in very flimsy pens
which only prevent the livestock from escaping; this makes it very easy for
leopards to kill and drag the animals far into the forest away from humans as
the forest is only a few metres away from the pens.
also able to obtain pugmarks of mouse deer, wild boar, mongoose, dogs or
jackals and civets. We spotted monkeys
and mongoose which seem to be very common in the region. We were able to
photograph the scat of deer and of leopards too which we collected for further
the region are being cut illegally. There has been mass deforestation in the
area due to resettlement and timber for the use of firewood. This is now
creating a conflict between leopards and humans and immediate intervention and
awareness programs need to be carried out before this escalates any further.
conversing with the villages, my take was that they have no issues living with
leopards and are quite happy to have the cats around as long as they do not harm
the livestock as this is their main source of income.