Camera traps at the Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary showed the presence of around 20 mammals, while an ornithological survey conducted on Saturday counted around 45 species of birds.
The sanctuary’s mammals include five leopards that mainly use the streams and dhau tree forests in the sanctuary to move around, said Sohail Madan, who heads the Bombay Natural History Society’s (BNHS) Conservation Education Center. at the Asola Bhatti. Wildlife Sanctuary. There are two adult males, two adult females and a sub-adult – the fifth leopard that was recently spotted on camera traps.
In a three-year study, the BNHS and the Delhi Forest Department are trying to assess the habitat preferences of these animals. “We are trying to count the number of animals and map them to see what areas they are using,” Madan said. The study began in July last year and around 22 camera traps have been installed so far.
Only one striped hyena has been spotted in the sanctuary and it is confined to a specific area, he said. Sambar deer, hog deer (listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature), nilgai, black deer and spotted deer were also filmed. Herbivores have a preference for open-canopy forests and open grasslands, while civets use streams to roam locally, Madan added. The common palm civet and the lesser Indian civet have been spotted at the sanctuary. Langur, jackal, rufous mongoose and gray mongoose are some of the other animals found in the sanctuary, as well as breeding pair populations of porcupines.
This is the first time a study has been undertaken to document the mammals of Asola Bhatti Wildlife Sanctuary, and some of the findings were surprising, according to Madan. The hog deer, for example, was a rare and unexpected find.
Bird species that were found in Saturday’s survey include the booted eagle, spotted eagle, steppe eagle, Egyptian vulture and black-winged kite. The Egyptian vulture has been classified as an endangered species by the IUCN. The booted eagle and the steppe eagle are winter migrants to the sanctuary. “A lot of raptors come in winter. There are birds of prey that migrate to Delhi in addition to waterfowl. The small birds and rodents in the sanctuary provide a good prey base for migrating raptors,” Madan said. 18 species raptors have been recorded in the sanctuary during winter raptor surveys conducted between 2017 and 2020.
“We knew the sanctuary was rich in bird diversity, but we had no idea of the mammal diversity. It went from being a heavily mined area that was heavily disturbed to what we have today…indicating the ability of the forest to rebound,” Madan said.