Lucknow, Feb 6 (IANS) The Yogi Adityanath government has decided to initiate a ‘Project Leopard’ in the state to deal with the growing population of the big cat and increasing incidents of man-animal conflict in the state.
According to official sources, the state government has decided to set up five leopard rescue centres in Meerut, Pilibhit, Chitrakoot, Etawah and Gorakhpur.
The first leopard rescue centre will be opened in the Etawah Lion Safari and permission for this has already been obtained by the Central Zoo Authority.
A forest official involved in preparing the blueprint for the project said, “Whenever a leopard is caught, there is a problem of keeping it in a safe place. The zoos in Lucknow and Kanpur are already overcrowded and we have no choice but to release the big cat in the forest from where it invariably comes back to the villages to hunt.”
The leopard population, according to the 2018 census, was 415 in Uttar Pradesh but wildlife experts claim that the population may have crossed 600 by now.
“If we take into account the frequent cub sightings in forest areas in the Terai region, we can say that the leopard population has grown considerably, may have even doubled,” said wildlife expert R.N. Singh.
In western UP alone, there have been six leopard attacks and three big cats have been beaten to death by the local people.
At times, leopard attacks have even caused a law and order situation in the region.