India leopards show no fear of humans

March 28, 2013 at 7:29 PM
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NEW YORK, March 28 (UPI) -- Areas of western India completely devoid of wilderness and with high human populations are attracting backyard wildlife including leopards, experts say.

A study led by Vidya Athreaya of the Wildlife Conservations Society found as many as five adult large carnivores, including leopards and striped hyenas, per 38 square miles, a density never before reported in a human-dominated landscape.

Evidence from camera traps showed leopards often ranged close to houses at night although remaining largely undetected by the public, and despite this close proximity between leopards and people there are few reports of attacks in the region, a release from WCS headquarters in New York reported Thursday.

The research was conducted in the western state of Maharashtra.

"Human attacks by leopards were rare despite a potentially volatile situation considering that the leopard has been involved in serious conflict, including human deaths in adjoining areas," WCS big cat expert Ullas Karanth said.

The camera traps also photographed rusty spotted cats, small Indian civets, Indian foxes, jungle cats, jackals and mongoose, the researchers said.

"The results of our work push the frontiers of our understanding of the adaptability of both humans and wildlife to each other's presence," Karanth said.

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