|Indian leopard in habitat|
The Mandvi taluka in Surat, Gujarat has been suffering lately with leopard attacks on local people. The conflicts have been raging so much, that the forest department has been issued to shoot the predators on sight. Among the unfortunate victims included an eleven-year-old girl, and four people who were killed in the past month. However, all of this might change when a political leader requested the state government and the forest department to build a wildlife sanctuary exclusively for leopards. His name is Jagdish Parekh, the president of Mandvi Nagarpalika. He recently identified a piece of land located on the banks of Tapti River. It is part of a 250 square kilometer area known as Singhwaay Farm, which is owned by the state agriculture department. The remaining two acres of this land is being utilized as a rabbit breeding center, cow research center, and staff quarters.
Mr. Parekh believes that leopards are essential for the life cycle, and need to be protected. He also stated that with the region boasting with maximum numbers of these animals, a sanctuary will help in their conservation. In addition to protecting leopards, the sanctuary could also become a tourist attraction. Mr. Parekh further stated that if the government will not help, then he will create a small private zoo/sanctuary of 100 acres for the animals. He is even in talks with the Jain community in Gujarat and Mumbai, who are willing to help him. According to Mr. Parekh, he has been fighting for a sanctuary for two years but still has not received any positive response.
I'm very happy and impressed to see that Mr. Parekh has felt strongly about the lives of leopards in Surat. He has taken the initiative of having to build a sanctuary for these animals, in order to protect them and keep the people of Surat safe. However, I'm shocked to see that the forest department has been given the order of shoot-to-kill the animals on sight after various incidents of man-leopard conflicts in the region. The forest department should know that these animals play a major role in their ecosystems in keeping the natural prey species in check. Without leopards, Surat will be overrun by prey animals who will create further nuisance in the lives of people. I sure hope that Mr. Parekh will get a response in building this sanctuary because it is the only harmless way of protecting both people and leopards from getting into further conflicts with each other.
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