Morni Wildlife

Morni hills were a popular location for hunting in the 18th and 19th centuries. Ahmad Shah Abdali, the Afghan invader is said to have camped at Pinjore for tiger hunting in the Morni hills in 1765. Col. R .R. Gillespie the legendary braveheart of the British Indian Army, is said to have camped at the hills in 1807 also for tiger hunting. Tigers frequented the jungles of Morni and Pinjaur as late as the close of the 19th century. The District Gazetteer of Ambala, 1892-93 reports depletion in the numbers of tigers and panthers due to excessive hunting. A few bears were still to be found in the hills. The number of the wolves and hyenas in the hills and broken grounds below the Shiwaliks was much larger. Wild pigs posed a menace to the crops under the hills and in the riverine tracts. Chital, Sambar and Kakkar (Barking Deer) were plentiful. The hills were famous for Pheasant and Jungle Fowl shooting. The small game shooting included hares and grey partridges. By 1913 Sirmur State had completely prohibited the hunting of tiger.

The indiscriminate hunting over the centuries has taken a heavy toll of the wildlife diversity in the hills. While, wildboars continue to be a menace, the deer population is highly depleted. Sambar, Kakkar and Neelgai can still, however, be sighted. Tigers are long gone. The leopard population in the Morni and the adjoining Kalesar hills is estimated at 30. Bears are no longer sighted. The spread of lantana and the resultant forest fires have destroyed the plentiful hares and the jungle fowls and other small game living in the scrub. Jackals can be sighted occasionally. Grey langurs, monkeys and Monitor Lizards are present in significant numbers.

Encounters with Leopards:

A female leopard with her cubs was sighted at the Berwala Bird Sanctuary by two lady birdwatchers in January 2009. The leopards target Gorals (mountain goats) that are plentiful in the area. According to the locals, the Berwala temple, a modest whitewashed shrine surrounded by thick mango trees on the road to Morni, is frequented by ‘tigers’ (leopards?). The temple is the site for an annual fair.


Berwala Temple, The Leopard Haunt

Leopard sightings are frequently reported by the villagers of Sherla, a village located at a height of 1100 metres. An outcrop of large rocks on the Morni-Sherla Taal-Nahan road that is surrounded by scrub is locally referred to as the ‘Tiger Point’. Leopards are said to frequent these rocks that have deep niches that afford shelter to the wild cats. A man-eater that killed a boy in 1992 is said to have been shot at this point by the shikari of the wildlife department.

Tiger Point

A one and a half year old leopard was found dead in a seasonal rivulet in Badisher in June 2010, probably mauled by an older leopord in a territory dispute. Leopard has been sited on numerous occasions in the vicinity of the Rasoon – Deorah track in October/November 2011. A local reported spotting a leopard near the Chandrawal Resort Hill with a Grey Langur infant held by its neck. The leopard was within a few feet of two young girls but did not harm them. Local women who visit the forest in this area for firewood and grass also report frequent leopard siting on the track to Deorah.


  1. Notes on some Mammals found in the Simla District, The Simla Hill States, and Kalka and adjacent country; Author:P. T. L. DODSWORTH, F.Z.S., M.B.O.U. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society Vol. 22 (1913)
  2. District Gazetteer of Ambala, 1892-93