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Conservation of Leopards in Jaipur Forest Area Through Scientific Mitigation Techniques

Indian leopard (Panthera pardus fusca) is considered as the wittiest of all big cats in nature. Indian leopard has maintained its position at the top of the food chain in several forest areas of India. In Rajasthan, Indian leopard is facing many threats due to the ill effects of climate change along with anthropogenic activities. The most common problem being faced by the leopards of Rajasthan, especially Jaipur is habitat fragmentation, illegal encroachment of forest land, animal trade and trafficking, etc.

In the Jaipur forest area which spans 948.68 sq km., the existence of the leopard is under constant threat due to ever increasing leopard population and ever decreasing habitat and space. Humans have carved roads through the forests and there is frequent thoroughfare including light and heavy traffic. There are temples inside forest areas that are regularly visited by people. The more humans encroach the serene beauty of wildlife, the more are the impacts on wild animal behaviour. Due to this disturbance in the forest, leopards have started moving out of their safe zones and into the areas of human settlements. Many villages located in the fringe zones have a constant encounter with leopards which come out of the forest area either in search of easy food or due to retaliation following habitat destruction by villagers. Many incidents of leopard attacks on cattle, small domestic mammals and even humans have alerted the public and government about the gravity of the situation. After trying many attempts to curb the problem of Human Leopard Conflict (HLC) we have come up with a new technique that has not been used on leopards as a mitigation measure so far. This technique is known as ‘I-Cow’ technique, wherein, the structure of eyes is painted on the rump of cattle which dwell near the forest area. This measure was conducted as a trial, but the results were so promising that we went on to implement this on many livestock in surrounding villages. The outcome was that the cattle with eyes painted on their rump were not attacked by leopards. Not a single case of leopard attack has been seen since this technique was implemented. We analyzed the results of the situation before and after this technique was carried out as well as compared the threat level to cattle with and without rumps painted with eyes. The data collected was very positive and we want to take it further and try other mitigation techniques. We encouraged shepherds to build metal cages for their animals with the aim of better protection from predation by leopards. We have implemented a safety measure which includes placing halogen lights around those houses of villagers which live in the fringe areas of the forest. Keeping in mind the cost and time required for every step, this field work has to gain more momentum in the future. This paper deals with various mitigation techniques and safety measures with their outcomes followed by scientific management of human leopard conflict in the future.

 

Overgrazing Impacting the Ecosystem of Sariska Tiger Reserve

There is large fragmentation and degradation of wildlife habitat caused by people and their cattle and the gradual increase in their numbers are causing major problems for the survival of wildlife in such areas.

Overgrazing is becoming a serious threat to the survival of many endangered species in the world. This abstract presents the findings from an analysis of the effect of overgrazing on the wildlife in the Sariska Tiger Reserve, Rajasthan, India. Human animal conflicts become more intense where livestock holdings and agriculture are an important part of rural livelihood. Competition between rural communities and wild animals over natural resources is more intense in developing countries. The comparative analysis that can be sought from the data that has been collected from the past vegetation when it saw only grazing and the present vegetation when grazing has turned into overgrazing has led us to interpret that overgrazing is being practiced in the core areas of Sariska.

It has been observed that sambhar (Rusa unicolor) and cheetal (Axis axis) numbers have declined in the habitat area where livestock grazing is intense. Sambhar competes with goats for browsing material and with other cattle for water, which is needed for wallowing and drinking.

Cheetal (Axis axis) is a grazer and also competes with cattle for feed and water. Blue bull (Boselaphus tragocamelus) is the least disturbed by cattle since browsing material comprises of 70 percent of its diet and the animal needs water less frequently.

Not only are the Ungulates involved in this problem, but the present study has found that even the langur (Semnopithecus entellus) population is higher in the undisturbed areas. This stands to the reason that there is not enough food to support the langur (Semnopithecus entellus) population in the disturbed area with low tree density. Tree density, tree cover and the number of tree species are lower in the disturbed areas, suggesting less quantity and variety of food in these areas at Sariska. Nearly 5% of the langur (Semnopithecus entellus) population at Sariska is preyed on by tigers (Panthera tigris) annually. Therefore, greater disturbance to the langurs (Semnopithecus entellus) also directly lowers the tiger’s prey base. Such observations indicate that the concerned authorities should rethink their vision of conservation by adopting new approaches which are sustainable in nature.

 

Urban Heat Island and Sustainable development

As urban areas develop, changes occur in the landscape. Buildings, roads, and other infrastructure replace open land and vegetation. Surfaces that were once permeable and moist generally become impermeable and dry. Materials commonly used in urban areas for pavement and roofs, such as concrete and asphalt, have significantly different thermal bulk properties (including heat capacity and thermal conductivity) and surface radiative properties (albedo and emissivity) than the surrounding rural areas. This causes a change in the energy balance of the urban area, often leading to higher temperatures than surrounding rural areas. The tall buildings within many urban areas provide multiple surfaces for the reflection and absorption of sunlight, increasing the efficiency with which urban areas are heated. This is called the “urban canyon effect”. On a hot, sunny summer day, the sun can heat dry, exposed urban surfaces, like roofs and pavement; to temperatures 50°F to 90°F (27°C to 50°C) hotter than the air. The magnitude of surface urban heat islands varies with seasons, due to changes in the sun’s intensity as well as ground cover and weather. As a result of such variation, surface urban heat islands are typically largest in the summer.

Summertime urban heat islands are most intense when the sky is clear and winds are calm. Heavy cloud cover blocks solar radiation, reducing daytime warming in cities. Strong winds increase atmospheric mixing, lowering the urban-rural temperature difference. UHIs (Urban Heat Islands) can produce secondary effects on local meteorology, including the altering of local wind patterns, the development of clouds and fog, the humidity, and the rates of precipitation. The extra heat provided by the UHI leads to greater upward motion, which can induce additional shower and thunderstorm activity. In addition, the UHI creates during the day a local low pressure area where relatively moist air from its rural surroundings converges, possibly leading to more favourable conditions for cloud formation. Although urban climatologists have been studying urban heat islands for decades, community interest and concern regarding them has been more recent. This increased attention to heat-related environment and health issues has helped to advance the development of heat island reduction strategies, mainly trees and vegetation, green roofs, and cool roofs.