CHANDIGARH: In news that will hearten animal lovers and conservationists, the wildlife population in Punjab is on the rise. For the first time, about 30 leopards and 25 gharials have become permanent residents of the state while more migratory birds are now visiting the wetlands and sanctuaries in Punjab.
“We have carried out photography through camera traps and it has been confirmed that in the last two months, leopard sightings have increased.
Earlier, they used to come down from the upper mountains in winters and go back in summers. Now, they do not go back to Himachal Pradesh in the summers and live in the Shivalik belt only,” said Kuldeep Kumar, Chief Wildlife Warden of the state. “One of the reasons is that they have easy preys in form of cattle, dogs, deers and other species here. They do not attack humans, except in odd cases of close encounters.”
In more cheerful news, the Beas river now has 25 gharials, nearly six decades after the critically endangered species was declared extinct in Punjab.
The migratory bird population has increased at the Harike and Keshopur bird sanctuaries, Navjot Singh Sidhu, Punjab’s Cultural Affairs and Tourism Minister, said, “A ‘Wetland Circuit’ will be formed for bird lovers for which all the wetlands will be made attractive from tourism point of view.”b He said a World Photography Contest would be held next year at the wetlands and tented accommodation would be made available for tourists by next year.
30 leopards reside in the Shivalik ranges now
25 gharials released in Beas river
94,771 migratory birds of 93 species at Harike sanctuary
21,040 migratory birds of 73 species at Keshopur