As recently reported, it seems that leopards (or some other big cat. I really am not sure what kind) have returned to Arunachala. Now we have photos of paw prints taken on 9 October 2010.
Below is the best photo. These were taken two or three days after they were made. It rained the night of 6 October, 2010, and we went walking the next morning and noticed these prints. The soft soil after the rain made for good paw prints left behind.
Compare this with a diagram taken from the Internet:
Here are two prints, going one way, then the other. We think the animal came down from the hill, probably to drink from a nearby water tank, then went back up the hill.
Here is a map that shows where paw prints were seen:
We understand that the last time leopards were seen on Arunachala was about 1933. Since 1990, serious environmental restoration, in the form of tree planting, has been going on around Arunachala. 20 years ago the mountains were bare. Now they are green, covered with trees in many places. The leopard was the top predator. For the top predator to return means that the environment now supports all the animals lower on the food chain that leopards need to survive. Their return demonstrates the success of the tree replanting effort, and its beneficial effect on the wildlife and environment.