“Explaining the reason behind leopards abandoning their natural habitat and encroaching upon ‘man’s territory,’ Vijay Hinge, district forest officer (planning), says the Western Ghats — where Nashik is located — are surrounded by dams and water bodies. The ample supply of water in the 4km-stretch around canals and rivers fed by the dams gives rise to natural vegetation. At Nashik, the Godavari river has helped in the growth of sugarcane and orchid fields. Since they can find easy prey like foxes, birds, rabbits and frogs in sugarcane fields, leopards make them their home. But in times of water shortage and when sugarcane has been harvested — as is the case now — leopards have no option but to venture out of their new habitat in search of food and water.
Leopard sightings in residential areas have been on the rise in recent years. From 2004 to March 2012, Nashik residents have had at least 10 confrontations with leopards. Sightings and attacks in sugarcane fields or at the borders of the jungles have been more frequent.”
Read more: DNA