Videos of a well-built leopard playing with motorists in Himachal Pradesh’s Tirthan Valley located in interiors of Kullu district has raised concern among wildlife experts. The one and a half-year-old leopard were seen playing and interacting with people and its comfort level amidst the presence of 15-20 people, who were busy shooting it on their mobile cameras show that wild cat was initially hand-reared, a wildlife official told IANS.
The incident of his affinity with passersby, largely local villagers, was reported on the Banjar-Kullu road on Thursday.
The official, requesting anonymity, said the unnatural playful instincts of this leopard, which is normally shy and rarely encountered in the daylight, indicate the animal is either surviving on scavenging or on the humans.
Coming from Tirthan Valley in Himachal Pradesh’s Kullu, a clip shows the animal strolling through the road. Tourists stopped the car and noticed the leopard walking close to them. Just then, he was seen climbing onto a man and playing with him. Wearing a Himachali cap, the man is seen trying to pet him cautiously, knowing fully well that he can attack a human and cannot be domesticated.
“The wild cat with such a high level of human imprinting is not natural. It should be kept in a rescue and rehabilitation center to understand its behavior. Its presence in the wild is a threat to the animal itself,” official said.
“The leopard can be either killed by another predator or by stray dogs,” he said, “even the behaviour of the humans playing with the leopard was worrisome”.
Usually, leopards avoid encountering humans, despite depending on their domestic animals for food and in fact, can live close to their habitations, but in such a secret way most people do not even know they are near, leave alone getting harmed.
Though the leopard is protected under Schedule 1 of the Indian Wildlife Protection Act, they are occasionally poached for their skin.
We need to protect our wildlife.
The video was shared largely on social media. people had a lot to say about it, while some enjoyed the video, some were apprehensive about it.
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