Thursday, 25 May 2017

Call of the leopard

When the night falls, the phantom calls !

A small greenery cover on fringes of a suburb of Kathmandu valley, surrounded by agricultural farmlands and moderate sub-urban and rural settlements, where there is frequent movements of local people for their daily livelihood activities (agriculture) as well as attended on regular basis by internal & external tourists for recreational purposes like bird watching, hiking, mountain biking etc., is also frequented by an invincible resident, a leopard. The leopard frequently spray marks urine and scratches on trunk of a tall Schima wallichi (Nepali: chilaune) tree, which is the usual behavior of leopards for territory marking and identification. Local people knows about its presence and they hear it calling/growling every night, while few have even sighted in daylights. According to them, the leopard prowls in the cover of darkness to take stray dogs, which has become their urban prey as their natural prey (barking deer, wild boar, monkeys etc.) are believed to be depleting due to habitat encroachment, fragmentation and illegal hunting [SMCRF 2015]. The leopard thrives despite the change in their habitat unlike their food by changing their menu [Athreya et al. 2014]. As scientifically as its known, leopards cannot change its spots, but it does can change its behavior for it is the most adaptable and versatile of all the great cats.

Spatial location of the tree with scratch mark. [Google Earth Pro v7.1.5]
This is the scenario which is very common today in most of the leopards' global range around the globe, so are the cases in many parts of Nepal too. The coexistence only remains to be one until there is, but not limited to, a conflict. The dynamics of their behavior is just so dynamic across their range, habitat, regions, areas, and individuals. The same species have made far-west Nepal [Karki & Rawat 2014] and bordering Uttarakhand of India [Sondhi et al. 2016] a most probable global hotspot of human-leopard conflict making lives difficult at both the ends. Yet they are equally proving that they can coexist alongside human settlements as urban as Kathmandu valley which is one of the most fastest urbanizing cities in South Asia [WorldBank 2012].

But its just like a matter of the string where the tension is gradually building up. This is a high time for us to give enough attention towards these charismatic spotted big cat to understand their behavior, their ecology, their situation! Maybe the leopard is calling for sake of their plight being unheard of! Maybe they are trying to signal us through their spiritual power, for they are the part of the forest deity, Ban devi, the goddess of the jungle. The forests are there because they are there.

May the people living with leopards always be bestowed with the eternal blessings of the Ban devi for generations and generations to come as have been since the dawn of the time.

P.S. Coming soon is an artwork expressing spiritual connections of people living with leopards under the blessings of Ban devi!

Cited articles:
Athreya V. et al. (2014). A cat among the dogs: leopard Panthera pardus diet in a human-dominated landscape in western Maharashtra, India. Oryx.
Karki JB & Rawat GS. (2014). Human leopard conflict in Nepal: A case study from Baitadi district of Nepal. DNPWC Special Issue-2071.
Sondhi S, Athreya V. et al. (2016). Human attacks by leopards in Uttarakhand, India: an assessment based on perceptions of affected people and stakeholders. A technical report submitted to the Uttarakhand Forest Department.
SMCRF (2015). Biodiversity survey of Chandragiri Hill, Kathmandu, Nepal. Small Mammals Conservation and Research Fund.
WorldBank (2012). Urban Growth and Spatial Transition in Nepal: An Initial Assessment.




  1. Good work Prajwol! Try to make your writings semi technical with some citations of relevant studies or research works so that it can even be browsed for and cited by other research work on the species!

    1. Thank you so much Yadav dai for your constructive advice, I will make the improvements as you suggested!

  2. Enjoyed reading your blog Prajwol. Keep on writing. Leopards need supporters like you.

  3. Keep going Prajwol. I suggest you to come up with measures to mitigate the problems! Include dialougues of what people at the periphery has to say!!

  4. Nice article. thank you for posting